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Christ’s Call to Courage | Speaking up for Truth

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
September 13, 2022 3:00 am

Christ’s Call to Courage | Speaking up for Truth

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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September 13, 2022 3:00 am

Many people feel they just can’t function in the morning with their cup of coffee. But, long ago, coffee met with grumpy, nearly global opposition for hundreds of years (They were grumpy ‘cause they hadn’t had their coffee). People oppose lots of things, but then come to embrace them warmly. And today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how we need to realize that people need the message we share, and we need to find the courage to share it even in the face of opposition.

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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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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. It takes courage in our culture today, especially to speak up for what is true. Because culturally, we're going the wrong direction on so many fronts. And for you to stand up and say what the Bible says takes courage. Cancel culture resists the truth of God's Word. But Pastor Greg Laurie points out we have a message that must get delivered.

Now I've got to warn you, if you speak up for what is true, you might get cancelled or worse. But have courage. Many people feel they just can't function in the morning without their cup of coffee. But long ago, coffee met with grumpy, nearly global opposition for hundreds of years.

Well, they were grumpy because they had another coffee. People opposed lots of things, but then come to embrace them warmly. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how we need to realize people need the message we share.

And we need to find the courage to share it, even in the face of opposition. My last message from the book of Acts that was titled How to Live a Meaningful Life, we saw the Apostle Paul saying goodbye to the elders of Ephesus. It was his final message to them.

And he said, I want to finish my race with joy. So he began his journey, and he ended up staying with the evangelist Philip, where he encountered a very colorful prophet named Agabus who bound himself up and said, this is what's going to happen to you, Paul, if you go to Jerusalem. Like, don't go. And Paul's saying, okay, being a little dramatic, but okay, I get the point.

But I know what you're saying. So you're saying I'm going to be arrested, and I'm going to be put into chains, right? Yes, that's it, Paul.

Don't go. And then Paul says to Agabus in Acts 21, why do you weep and try to break my heart? I'm ready not only to be bound, but to even die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now remember one thing about Paul. He had already died and gone to heaven. Remember he was stoned?

Not that kind of stone. And that's probably the moment when he was caught up into the third heaven that he wrote about in 2 Corinthians and saw amazing things that he could not even describe. So this is a man who's been to glory, and he's returned. And he later wrote to the church of Philippi, I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. But the Lord's called me to stay here with all y'all, and I have a ministry to fulfill. So Paul's not afraid of death. Paul's not afraid of suffering. Oh, am I going to die?

Okay, whatever. My life is in God's hands. And so he's trusting the Lord.

How do you stop a man like that? Answer, you know. And we need more men and women like this that understand that their life is in God's hands. So Paul ignored the warning of the prophet Agabus. And sure enough, when he lands in Jerusalem, he is arrested, and he's put in prison.

And here's what happened. Here's what the Lord did to encourage his servant. Acts 23, starting in verse 9. There arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees party arose and protested, saying, we find no evil against this man.

But if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God. Now there arose a great dissension in the commander, fearing that Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them and bring him to the barracks. And the following night, the Lord stood by him and said, be of good cheer, Paul, for you've testified of me in Jerusalem, and now you're going to also bear witness in Rome.

We'll stop there. So here is Paul in prison again. I mean, Paul's middle name could have been Trouble. It was always something with him. Everywhere he went, it was either a riot or a revival.

There was never a dull day hanging around the apostle Paul. But I think here, he was probably discouraged. He was probably feeling down.

And it's no wonder. He's in a Roman dungeon. And now the Lord comes to him and brings these encouraging words. Verse 11 says, the following night, the Lord stood by him. Maybe he second guessed his decision to go to Jerusalem. Maybe he thought, I shouldn't have done this.

Maybe I should have listened to Agabus after all. And the Lord appears to him and encourages him. And the Lord says to him, Paul, be of good cheer. Be of good cheer. How can you have good cheer when you're in a dungeon? You know, it's like when someone comes to you when you're feeling down and they say, hey man, smile. Put on a happy face, right?

Gray skies are going to clear up. Put on a happy face. No, stop, shut up. And you slap them. No, don't slap them.

But you know, you maybe felt like it at times, right? Someone tells you to cheer up when you're feeling down. That's not what you say to someone who's feeling down. But yet the Lord says, good cheer to you. Be of good cheer. But actually, if we look at the original language, we find a better translation would be, have courage.

And that makes a lot more sense. So here he is in this Roman prison cell and the Lord comes to him. The Lord himself, not even an angel dispatched.

Jesus comes to him. The Lord stood by him. Do you realize that the Lord stands by you wherever you go?

That's so important. It gives you courage. When the Lord is there, years ago when I was a little kid living in New Jersey, I was walking down the street with my little cowboy outfit. Had a little cowboy hat, couple of guns on my holster. Not real guns, of course.

Little cap guns. And I'm shooting them, having a good time. And these like, I don't know what to call these guys. They're like hoodlums.

They come up, what are you doing? And they take my guns, push me on the ground. So I went home and I found my big brother and I said, could you help me get my guns back?

And he's pretty big, a lot bigger than those other kids. So I went back and I saw them and they're shooting my guns, laughing. I said, they're there. He walked over, they immediately surrendered the guns to him. I had a lot of courage.

Why? Because I had someone much bigger with me now to protect me that gave me that courage. The Lord stands by you wherever you go.

So this is what the Lord did for Paul. Be of good courage. What is courage? It's been defined as bravery, fortitude, the ability to confront fear, uncertainty, or intimidation. Physical courage is bravery and the face of physical pain or even the threat of death.

I don't know that it necessarily comes naturally to anyone because we're all afraid at times. But courage is a willingness to act in the face of fear. One person put it this way and I quote, courage is fear that has said its prayers, end quote.

I like that. Mark Twain said, courage is the mastery of fear, not the absence of fear. Mastering your fear. We all have moments of fear.

Courage says, I'm going to get control of this. Those that serve us in law enforcement have courage to put that uniform on every single day because they don't know what's going to happen to them. Those that serve in our military, the same. They put that uniform on.

They're serving our nation. I think of the story of a soldier named Ross McGinnis. He was on duty in Iraq in 2006 and Private First Class McGinnis was perched on the gunner's hatch of a Humvee when a grenade whizzed past him into the truck carrying four of his fellow soldiers. And in a split second McGinnis did the unthinkable. He threw himself on top of the grenade absorbing its impact.

He was killed immediately. But all four soldiers survived. That's courage. That's courage. And we're amazed by it.

But how long did he have to think about it? But he did this incredible thing. But there's other kinds of courage. There's moral courage as well. It takes courage in our culture today especially to speak up for what is true.

Because culturally we're going the wrong direction on so many fronts. And for you to stand up and say what the Bible says is something that is not expected. It took courage for young Stephen to not back down and share the gospel right before he was stoned. It took courage for Daniel to pray when a law was passed that no one could pray to any god but to the leader of Babylon. It took courage for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to not bow down before the golden image of the king when everybody else was. And we need that courage today.

Now I've got to warn you. If you speak up for what is true you might get cancelled or worse. But stand up for what is true. Have courage. That's what Jesus said to Paul.

That's what he says to you. Have courage. Have courage in the place where you're at right now. Don't back down for what you know is true. It takes courage to honor your vows that you made to your husband or wife to be and to be faithful to them. It takes courage to remain sexually pure as a young person and not succumb to the allurements that come your way because everyone else is doing it.

It takes courage. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Many listeners write or call us sharing their stories of how these daily studies in God's Word make an impact on lives.

I started listening to your message. I transport a lot of veterans to medical appointments and things of that nature. I keep the radio on to your station and the veterans have a chance to hear the Word.

Some of them for the very first time and a couple of them have decided to give their life another chance. A couple of veterans who had attempted suicide found peace and comfort in the words that were given through your messages. I want to say thank you very much. God bless you. What an encouragement to know that Pastor Greg's messages are touching lives in some unexpected ways. Do you have a comment to share with Pastor Greg? If so, call 1-866-871-1144. That's 866-871-1144. Well, Pastor Greg is presenting a message today from Acts chapter 23 titled Christ's Call to Courage.

Let's continue now. When Jesus said, be of good courage, it's a unique phrase that is used multiple times in the Bible, each one showing a different facet of how to find courage in our lives. The first is the story of a man who was a paraplegic in Matthew 9. He was carried by his friends to Jesus and Jesus looks at this guy who is unable to walk and he says to him, be of good courage. Your sins are forgiven. Now, the guy was probably thinking, well, okay, I'm glad my sins are forgiven but I'd actually like to walk. That was kind of why I was brought here to you and there's a protest among the religious leaders who can forgive sins but God alone.

Oh, I hear what you guys are saying. Jesus says, but just so you know that I, the Son of Man, have the power to forgive sins, I say, your sins are forgiven and get up and walk. And that man got up and walked but Jesus used this phrase, be of good courage to him. And this is the thing we remember, the forgiveness of Christ brought courage to that man. And we can be crippled by our sins, unable to walk, unable to move, unable to do anything. You know, we fail and we say, I'm a failure, I should just stop praying, I don't even, shouldn't even read the Bible anymore or go to church.

That's the devil lying to you. Jesus says, be of good courage, your sins are forgiven you. You know, in the book of Revelation, we read about those believers that come through the tribulation period and they're martyred and it says they overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives until the death. But they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb. So when you've sinned, you go to God and you say, Lord, forgive me of my sin and you put your sin in your past and walk into your future with courage because Christ has forgiven you. Don't miss this point. Because I know I'm talking to somebody right now who's crippled by their sin. You don't have to be anymore.

You can have a fresh start. This phrase, be of good courage, is used of a woman struggling to get to Jesus in a crowd of people. She had this physical ailment and she reasoned, if I can touch the hem of his garment, I'll be healed and she reaches through and she touches him and Jesus stops and says, who just touched me? Well, the fact is everyone had touched him. Who touched me? He says, for I perceive that power has gone out of me and there's a woman and he says to her, be of good courage.

You are made whole. So in this particular case, it was his power that gave her courage. My power has gone out of me. And a lot of times, we're afraid to share our faith. We're afraid to speak up for what we believe. But there's a promise in the beginning of the book of Acts that we all looked at together where it says, you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you to be witnesses for me. That same power that was given to the first century, causing them to turn their world upside down, is available for us today in the 21st century to turn our world upside down. His power gives courage. That's why it's always a good idea to start your day and just say, Lord, fill me with the Holy Spirit. Give me boldness, give me courage to speak up for what is true. And so his power gave that courage and that power is here for us. Now, it's also going to be there for whatever you're about to face.

Sometimes we see someone go through a crisis and we say, man, if that happened to me, I think my faith would just collapse if I was told I have cancer or if a loved one died unexpectedly or if this other thing happened, I couldn't handle it. Listen to this. God will give you what you need when you need it, okay?

Just know that. He'll give you what you need when you need it. He won't give it to you necessarily before. He'll never give it to you after.

But when you need it, He'll give you what you need. So until that time, He just says, have courage. Number three, the third time this phrase is used is when the disciples are on the storm-tossed Sea of Galilee and they thought they were gonna drown and suddenly they see some form coming to them, walking on the water and they thought it was a ghost.

But it wasn't Casper, it was Christ. Coming to them and what does Jesus say to them? He says, be of good courage.

It is me. Don't be afraid. He put Himself between them and the thing that frightened them. Just like a parent would stand in the way of danger. I was with my granddaughter, Allie, a few months ago and we were walking along and there's some guy who has a dog off the leash and the dog came out as growling and snapping and Allie's getting very afraid and I stepped in front of her and I said to this guy, very nicely, put a leash on that dog right now. And fortunately he did it and then afterwards she said, Papa, you saved my life. I don't think I saved your life, but thank you for that.

But you know, I just did instinctively what any parent or grandparent would do. You put yourself in the way of the person you're protecting and that's what Jesus is saying. He's there in the way of whatever is coming our way.

So let's review. His forgiveness gives courage. His power gives courage and His presence gives courage. Verse 11 again, the Lord stood by him. Paul later wrote that those that he loved had abandoned him. Have you ever felt as though you've been abandoned by your family, by your friends, by someone you trusted? That's how Paul had felt at one point.

Everyone's abandoned me. Well, the Lord's with them. The Lord hasn't abandoned him and remember when Jesus hung on the cross and bore the sins of humanity, He cried out these words, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

What is that all about? That is the moment most believe. That the sins of the world were placed upon Christ who was dying in our place as a substitute.

So what He was describing was reality. He was temporarily forsaken by God so I will never be forsaken by God. You will never be forsaken by God because Jesus said I will never leave you or forsake you. And so I spoke with a man in the hospital on the phone last week and he said, I feel as though God has abandoned me. And I said, God has not abandoned you. He's with you in that hospital room right now.

I shared some scripture with him and we prayed and he committed this life to Christ and it was a sister that asked me to call him. And sometimes I'm very reluctant to call people when someone else asks me to call them because then I call this person like, why are you calling me? I don't want to talk to you, right? And I'm like, why are you calling me?

I don't want to talk to you, right? But this guy was happy that I called him. And I said, go tell your sister what you've just done. And the sister contacted me and said, my brother just called me.

He was all excited. He said he felt the presence of God because he's recommitted his life to Jesus. So that's what the Lord can do. Paul was in a dungeon but the Lord was with him. Better to be in a dungeon with Jesus than anywhere else without him. Better to be in a storm with Jesus than anywhere else without him.

And then here's another point. God knew where Paul was and why he was there. That brought courage as well. Paul, Jesus is saying, buddy, I know you're here and I'm here with you. I'm standing by your side because Paul's probably second-guessing his decision and sometimes we feel like, oh, God's forgotten about me.

No, never. He always is aware of us. Maybe I'm talking to somebody right now that is gripped with fear and worry. And the words of Jesus to you are, don't be afraid, be of good courage. Important encouragement from a pivotal chapter in the book of Acts. Pastor Greg Laurie titled today's study here on A New Beginning, Christ's Call to Courage. And it's a very important one.

And he'll have a final comment in just a moment. Well, Pastor Greg, listeners to A New Beginning are Bible students. They know the Scripture. But there's a lot of symbolism in Bible prophecy.

You've studied the subject a great deal. How much of that symbolism do we know for sure what it means and how much of it is open to interpretation where godly people do disagree? Well, I think it's very important to understand Bible prophecy. There are constant exhortations to understand these things. Jesus, when he was speaking of an event called the abomination of desolation, said, let the reader understand. In the book of Thessalonians, Paul writing to the believers there, he says, brothers, I would not have you be ignorant. Then he went on to talk about the rapture. So we don't want to be ignorant.

We want to understand. And the very word revelation means to unveil. Now, there are different ways that we can view these truths, and I think godly people can, and they do, frankly, disagree on some of these things. Now, my position is I believe that there is an event called the rapture that could happen at any moment. I believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. Now, the tribulation period is last seven years, starts with the emergence of antichrist. It ends with the return of Jesus Christ. I don't believe we as Christians will go through the tribulation period. I believe we'll be raptured before that time comes.

Now, that belief alone will affect you in the way that you live, because if you believe you could be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and you see the signs of the time showing how close the tribulation period could potentially be, you realize if the tribulation period is close, then the rapture of the church is even closer. So I could use the illustration of seeing Christmas decorations up. And you know they go up so early now, don't they?

What is it, August or something? I can't believe Christmas decorations are up. Well, guess what? If I see the decorations for Christmas going up, it says this, Thanksgiving is coming. You say, no, Greg, it says Christmas is coming.

No, I know. But if Christmas is coming, Thanksgiving is coming even sooner, because Thanksgiving precedes Christmas, doesn't it? So the point of it all is if I see signs of the times out there telling me that the tribulation period is coming, then that means that Jesus is coming even sooner for his church. That belief alone will affect you in the way that you live. And I talk about that and a lot more in this book called Revelation, a Book of Promises. It's hard cover.

It's a thick one. This is going to be a resource that you'll keep at home and hopefully you'll consult it again and again. And my prayer and my hope is it will help unlock this great book, the final book of the Bible, the only book of the Bible, I might add. It has a special blessing promise to the person who reads, hears, and keeps the words of it. And I want you to get this book I've written, simply called Revelation, a Book of Promises, and we'll send it to you for your gift of any size. And here's Dave to tell you more.

Well, thank you very much. Yeah, it's a substantial commentary from Pastor Greg, more than 400 pages in length. If you've been less than clear in your understanding of last day's events, you need to get this resource.

Hey, Dave, let me jump in really quick. And not only are we offering this book, Revelation, a Book of Promises, but we have this really cool graphic bookmark that we have put together that gives you a timeline of end times events. So you probably wondered, okay, I know I've heard about the rapture and the tribulation period and the antichrist and the second coming.

What happens when? Well, this very beautiful little visual bookmark sort of lays it out for you. That's included in the book you're talking about right now.

Yeah, that's right. It comes automatically. So get in touch with your donation today and we'll thank you with a copy of Revelation, a Book of Promises. Just ask for it as you call 1-800-821-3300. That's a 24-7 phone number, 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to harvest.org. Well, next time, more insights on how we should take courage when trials and opposition threaten to bring our Christian growth to a standstill. But before we go, Pastor Greg comes back with these final words. I have these little trackers. I think they call them air tags made by Apple. And you can put them in your wallet or in your briefcase or your purse or wherever, and if you lose it you can find it. So I misplaced my wallet.

So I pull out that Find My Wallet, you know, and I'm looking and finally I realize it's like one foot from me because it was under my backpack, I think, which is kind of embarrassing but it worked. Well, God has more sophisticated tech than that. He always knows where you are. As the psalmist said, Where shall I flee from your presence? If I go to the heights of heaven, you're there. If I go to the depths of hell, you're there. God is with you and aware of where you are wherever you go.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 05:15:48 / 2023-02-26 05:26:11 / 10

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