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. How do you build hope? Well, here's something that might surprise you. Hope grows in the garden of adversity. We may wish it was the opposite. Why not let our hope grow in a time of pain-free serenity?
Brother Greg Laurie says that's not God's design, and Father knows best. Hope actually gets stronger when things get harder, but you must turn to God, not turn away from God. Are you hopeful, or are you hopeless? This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Oh, is it grace, how sweet the sound? Can you hear all the angels sing it? This is the day, the day when life begins. When the alarm goes off early so we can get up and work out, it's easy to wish we could strengthen our muscles while we lie there in bed.
But we know it doesn't work that way. When it comes to growing strong in our faith, sometimes we have to exercise our faith, and sometimes that comes at the most painful, distressing times of life. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us get through the toughest times of our lives. Today, we'll see our faith grows as we lean hard on the Lord.
This is the day, the day when life begins. Here before us in John 11 is a story of a loved one dying. It's a story of severe grief that accompanies the death of someone you love. It's also a story of how Jesus reacts in such situations and it tells us how God can actually be glorified through difficult circumstances. But it's also a hopeful message. So we will remember that no matter what we are going through, God is going to be with you. He will give you the strength you need in your hour of need. Not necessarily before. Never after.
But He will give you what you need when you need it. This is the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Now these people were personal friends of Jesus Christ. And He would go to their home in Bethany when He would be going into Jerusalem. Whenever He went into Jerusalem there was conflict. There was drama.
There were things going on. So He would go hang out with His friends first. And by the way, Martha was a killer cook. And I'm sure He loved her food as did His twelve buddies.
He took with Him everywhere He went. So He would just show up and Martha would whip Him up a feast. And Jesus liked to spend time in their home and it could be accurately said that Mary, her sister Martha, and their brother Lazarus were personal friends of Jesus Christ.
I think that's an important thing to note. And so as our story picks up hardship has come their way. Sickness has invaded their home. John 11. Now a certain man was sick. Lazarus of Bethany. The town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was then Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him saying, Lord, behold, He whom you love is sick.
Now look at this. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus therefore, therefore when He heard that He was sick He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Huh?
What? And finally Jesus comes strolling into town and He is days late. Not only has He missed healing Lazarus.
Lazarus has died and He missed the funeral. So as He arrives in Bethany Martha goes up to Him and says the following. John 11 verse 20. Then Martha as soon as she heard Jesus was coming went and met Him but Mary was sitting in the house. And Martha said to Jesus, Lord if you would have been here my brother would not have died.
But now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you. Jesus said to her, your brother will rise again. Martha said, I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the last day. Jesus said, read my lips. No He didn't say that. But He said, I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in Me though He were dead yet shall He live and whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
So here comes Jesus created by Martha with this statement, Lord if you would have been here my brother would not have died. Allow me to loosely paraphrase that. Jesus, He kind of blew it. He really let us down here.
We were bragging on you to our friends telling them all how awesome you are. And you don't even show up. You even miss the funeral. You could have done something. But then there is a spark of faith in there too and Martha does say, yet I know that whatever you ask of God He will give it to you. Ok so she is very upset with Jesus. Have you ever been upset with God? Have you ever not agreed with what God did in your life?
Have you ever been disappointed with God? Maybe He is saying something like, where were you Lord when my parents divorced? Where were you when my marriage dissolved? Where were you when my child went prodigal? Where were you when my loved one died? Where were you when you let me buy a cat in a pet shop? Why did you?
Why? I have to throw crazy stuff in every now and then. I know this is an intense message folks.
So I will throw in wacky humor here and there. But you know where were you Lord? We feel that way and we cry out to Him and I want to say this Mary and Martha were doing the right thing. We all have our anxieties and we all have our concerns. Don't separate yourself from God and isolate yourself from other Christians.
Be with them and go to God in prayer with your concerns. Listen with your complaints. With your frustrations. And say, Lord I don't get it and I don't like it. But I believe in you.
And I believe you are in control and I love you. But I still don't like it. It's okay. It's just honesty. It's just honesty with God. There's nothing wrong with asking God why. Don't necessarily expect an answer. But you can ask God why. You know if the Lord did tell us why things happen the way they do, do you think it would ease your pain and heal your broken heart?
I mean imagine for a moment if you were saying, God I don't understand this. Why? Why? He says, you really want to know? Yes I do. You ready for it? Yes.
Here it is. The reason that happened was so this would take place. Boom.
What would you do? I don't agree. That's not right. You messed up. You probably wouldn't agree with it.
So I don't even think knowing the answer would help you. God says, my ways are above your ways. My thoughts are above your thoughts. So we should live on promises, not explanations. And we shouldn't spend too much time asking why. Why?
Why? Now Jesus is going to put things in perspective. Martha, listen to me now. I am the resurrection and the life. And he that believes in me though he were dead yet he shall live. And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.
Martha listen. Death is not the end. This is the promise of God for all of us.
And this is why we as Christians have hope. Everything doesn't end when I leave this earth. Oh yes my physical life ends.
But I am a soul in a body. And I live on in eternity. And one day heaven according to scripture is going to come down to the earth. Heaven and earth will become one. God has a future and a hope for every one of his followers.
That's why we have hope in a seemingly hopeless world. Okay let's go back to John 11 verse 32. And when Mary came where Jesus was she saw him falling down at his feet saying, Lord if you would have been here my brother would not have died. Therefore when Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who came with her weeping he groaned in his spirit and was troubled.
And he said where have you laid him they said come and see. Now here is the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus wept two words. Jesus wept.
Then the Jews said see how he loved them. You know men have a harder time in general than women expressing their feelings and emotions. Girls do it so well. We so admire you. We don't understand you. But we admire you. The way you are just talking and having 12 girls talking at the same time.
Understanding each other. We are really perplexed when you all go to the bathroom together that makes no sense to men. I am going to the bathroom. Who wants to go? I will go. And you all go. Whatever. We are embarrassed if we see each other in the bathroom.
Oh hi. But girls. A girl will say to a girl I love you so much. I love you. I love you.
I love you. Love, love, love. Guys are like. And we do feel love. We feel love for our brothers. We feel love for our wives. We feel love for a lot of people.
It is just harder for us to say it. That is all. So we will punch each other.
Love you bro. You know. Come on.
We are messed up. Let's just admit it. And it is really hard for a man to cry generally. For many men they will hold it back.
They will fight it. And some would even say it is not masculine to cry. For anyone who would say it is not masculine for a man to cry I have a two word answer. Jesus wept. Jesus wept. Jesus of Nazareth was the most masculine man that ever walked this planet. He was the man. Even Pilate said behold the man. He was the man. Don't forget he carried that wooden cross through the streets of Jerusalem after having this back ripped open by a Roman whip. He was tough as nails. Not this effeminate little scrawny Jesus you see in religious art.
That's not the Jesus of the Bible. He was strong. But he wept. Because it was heartbreaking. What was heartbreaking?
What was heartbreaking was what sin had done. Who was he mad at? Was he mad at Mary and Martha? I don't think so. Was he mad at the people mourning?
I don't really think so. I think he was mad at the grim reaper if you will. He was mad at death itself. Because this was never part of God's divine plan for us to die. We would have lived forever if our crazy first parents didn't eat the forbidden fruit. And by the way it wasn't an apple. The Bible never says apple. People say when Adam and Eve ate the apple there was no apple. It was a nectarine don't you know.
Actually we are not told. But because he ate that fruit sin entered the world. If Adam and Eve had not eaten of the forbidden fruit we would live forever. If Adam and Eve had not eaten of the forbidden fruit we would never age. If Adam and Eve had not eaten of the forbidden fruit I would have hair right now and lots of it.
Beautiful hair. I was signing copies of my book after the service and some lady came up to me and said I have to ask you how old are you? I said well how old do you think I am? She said well I don't really want to say. Well go ahead take a shot. She says 72 I'm like what? Seriously?
She said I told you I didn't want to say. Wow that's all because of sin, aging, sickness and of course death. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We're so moved to hear from listeners who join us from every background, every profession and from all around the world. Hey all, Pastor Greg's life and ministry have been such a big part of my life here in New Zealand since I first saw a crusade movie of his back when I was 16.
I'm 46 now. Not sure I'd still be a Christian if it wasn't for some of Greg's messages that came along right at the time I needed them. Thanks. What a great encouragement to know that these daily studies in God's Word make an impact halfway across the world. If you'd like to contact Pastor Greg and tell him your story email him gregatharvest.org.
Again that's gregatharvest.org. And now Pastor Greg continues his message called Hope for Hurting Hearts. God can be glorified through human suffering and bring good out of that. God can be glorified through human suffering and bring good out of that.
Mary and Martha wanted a healing. Jesus wanted a resurrection. He wanted to do more than they wanted Him to do. You know there are many times God wants to do way more than you are asking for. The Bible says in Ephesians 3.20, He is able to do exceedingly above and beyond that which you can ask or think. So don't limit God by your unbelief.
If you have a bill due you need $942.76 to pay it. So you go to the Lord, Lord I need this much money. Would you provide it? Well don't limit Him to say, Lord if you want to throw in five extra grand I'm good. You know whatever you want to do.
Now I'm sort of being a little humorous there. But the point is He might want to do more than you are asking for. They say, Lord here is my need. I bring above for you.
But I know you can do exceedingly above and beyond that which I could ask or think. Here is the thing about hope. You think how do you get hope? How do you build hope? Well you need sunshine, lollipops, rainbows, and a couple of unicorns right?
They are not real by the way. But don't tell that to little girls. But the point is we think all the good times, all the happy times will bring hope.
Not really. Here is something that might surprise you. Hope grows in the garden of adversity. Hope actually gets stronger when things get harder. See that doesn't make any sense to me.
Well listen. The Bible says this in Romans 5.3, we glory in tribulations which means we are happy when things are hard. That is not easy. Knowing that tribulation produces perseverance or endurance. And endurance produces character and character produces hope. You see when a Christian suffers and still glorifies God it reassures the rest of us that there will never be a valley so deep that God will not get us through it. It reminds us that our faith is real. It will sustain us in our hour of need.
When you are going through hardship that is when you are going to find out how real your faith actually is. Ok. I have been saying these things for years. I have been telling these things to other people. Now it is time for me to get on this little bridge called faith and put my full weight on it. And I had to do that. And that bridge did hold me up because everything God says in His word is true. And my faith grew stronger and my hope burned brighter.
And it can happen for you as well. But you must turn to God. Not turn away from God.
See that was the smart thing about Mary and Martha. They went to the Lord and that is where you need to go with your pain right now. And I am asking you in closing.
Are you hopeful or are you hopeless? I talked about the hopeless generation. They have probably more materially than any generation that has ever existed. They are very you know iPads. Now I am talking about the pets have iPads now you know. Everybody has all these great things and so many of them are just you know they have high suicide rate.
What is going on? I think it is because there is all these bright shiny dazzling things and they quickly see the emptiness of all of it and they are wondering is there more to life than this. Well there is but it is not in stuff.
It is in a relationship with God. You know when you are young you say well I am not that happy now but one day when I graduate from high school I will be happy. I will be fulfilled and you graduate. Well I need to graduate from college and you do that. Well I need to get married. Then you get married and you are like huh, maybe I need to get remarried. So you get divorced and I am not making light of that by the way but I am using it as an illustration. So you remarry again.
Oh and maybe I made the wrong decision. I will get remarried again. Then you say well kids we need kids. If we had kids we would be happy. Then you have kids.
Then you say if we could get rid of these kids somehow we will be happy. Have you ever noticed it is always just a little beyond your reach? That is because it, the thing you are looking for, isn't out there. It is not a thing you hold in your hand. It is having Christ in your heart. That is what you are wired for.
That is what you are looking for. I will close with this verse. And this verse is 25 chapters so be patient.
No it is just one verse. Proverbs 10, 28. The hopes of the godly result in happiness. But the expectations of the wicked are all in vain. So if you are a believer and you have your hope in Christ it will result in happiness.
But if your expectations are in other things it is all in vain. Jesus has what you are looking for. He will forgive you of all of your sin and give you hope if you are young, if you are middle age, if you are 72 or if you look like you are 72 or you are 85 or you are 95.
Whatever your age the answer is the same. We need Jesus. And I am going to close by offering an invitation to anybody here that may not have a relationship with God yet.
Because listen to this. Life without Jesus is a hopeless end. Good life with Jesus is endless hope. You have heard of the endless summer. I am talking about endless hope.
It doesn't stop for you in a relationship with God. Jesus died on the cross for you. Two thousand years ago He died in your place and bore your sins.
And He rose again from the dead three days later. And now He is here standing at the door of your life and He is knocking and He is saying if you will hear His voice and open the door He will come in. Have you asked Christ to come into your life yet?
If not why don't you do it right now. You will find the hope you are looking for. He is just a prayer away. Let's all pray together. Father thank You for Your love for us. Thank You for Your word to us. Thank You that You can give us hope in a seemingly hopeless world. And now I pray for any person here watching, listening, wherever they may be if they don't have a relationship with You, if they don't know that their sin is forgiven, would You help them to see their need for You today, help them to come to You and believe in You we ask. Amen. We are so excited that your new evangelistic documentary film is soon to be released.
Yes. What do you think will surprise people the most when they see Johnny Cash, the redemption of an American icon? I think they'll be surprised by the amazing quality of it. I think they'll be surprised by the people that we interviewed that talked about the faith of Johnny Cash like Winona Judd, Marty Stewart, Tim McGraw, Sheryl Crow and others. I think they'll be surprised at how badly Johnny fell, but I think they'll also be surprised by that strong faith that sustained him through life, the faith that he returned to toward the end of his life. I think they'll not only be surprised, I think they'll be inspired because this is a powerful film. It's like a modern retelling of the story of the prodigal son. I think one other surprise they'll find is that the gospel is presented in this film as well, because it's a gospel that changed Johnny's life.
He believed it, even though he strayed from it at times. So this is a powerful film and I don't think you've ever seen a film quite like this. The closest thing we've done would be Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon, but this goes to the next level and beyond. So we want you to see this brand new film that's coming to a theater near you as a fathom event. So here's Dave to tell you more about how you can get tickets to see this brand new documentary film done by the Irwin brothers, best known for their films, American Underdog.
I can only imagine, I still believe, and the soon to be released Jesus Revolution. Dave tell them how they can get their tickets. Yeah, it's real easy. Just go to harvest.org. You'll find more details there and you can even arrange your tickets while you're online. And by the way, tickets are limited and they're going fast. We're making them available to say thank you to those who stand with us and support our outreach with a generous donation. Our outreach, not only here on A New Beginning, but through our evangelistic events and through this evangelistic film, Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon. What are the dates of this fathom event? You'll find them listed on our website at harvest.org. It's coming up soon, so get in touch right away.
Go to harvest.org or call us anytime 24 seven at 1-800-821-3300. And then here's Pastor Greg once again. Let me close with this thought. Would you like Jesus Christ to come into your life? Would you like your sin forgiven?
Would you like to fill the hole in your soul? Would you like to go to heaven when you die? If so, just stop what you're doing and pray this prayer with me. You can pray it out loud if you like. You can pray it in the quietness of your heart if you choose, but pray this prayer. This is a prayer of asking Jesus Christ to come into your life. Pray these words, Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I know that you're the savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I turn from that sin now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus' name I pray.
Amen. Hey, did you just pray that prayer? If so, I want to congratulate you and be the first to say welcome to the family of God.
Yeah, that's right. And you have a whole new life in front of you now. And to help you begin living this new life, Pastor Greg would like to send you some free follow-up resources called our New Believers Growth Packet.
It'll help you get started in living your life for the Lord. So can we send it to you? Just ask for the New Believers Growth Packet. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. We are here around the clock to take your phone call. That's 1-800-821-3300.
Our mailing address is a New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click on Know God. Well next time, Pastor Greg offers an important look at the life of Samson. We know him as the Bible's great strongman, but great was the fall of the great strongman Samson. We learn to avoid his mistakes. 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.
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