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. The Christian life is one of constant growth. Listen, you don't reach some plateau where you know it all. There's no cruise control in the healthy Christian life. Stay on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out the importance of pressing forward in our walk with God. A wise Christian realizes there's always so much to learn. And you know there's so much in your life that needs to still change as you're transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Well hopefully you joined us last night, whether in Southern California or online from around the country for SoCal Harvest, live from Angel Stadium. So many were brought face to face with their need for the Lord. And to hear about the results, get up to the minute details at harvest.org. But to help those who make commitments to Christ, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie focuses on the next step, how to walk each day in fellowship with the Lord.
What insight is coming your way today? Not that long ago, I have a friend, he said, let's go for a walk. His name is Paul. He's much more fit than I am.
I try to get on a walk every day for maybe 30 minutes or so. But Paul likes to take longer walks. I said, where are we going?
He said, I'm going to take you to a really amazing lake, okay? So we started our walk and I noticed a lot of it is going up. I'm on the incline and you know I hit the 30 minute mark and said, I'm getting pretty tired here Paul.
Maybe we should head back. He goes, no it's just a little further. Now we're at an hour and my little apple watch is moving away and the little app is going so I'm going, well I'm making progress here.
Okay, now I'm getting a bit fatigued because we're at an hour and 20 minutes. And I said, how much further is it? He said, just right up here, the lake, we're almost there.
So I see someone coming in the opposite direction. I said, excuse me, is there a lake up there? They said, oh yeah, way up there.
I'm like, oh no. He said, I'm going back. He said, Greg, come on, you're going to love this lake. So I finally made it to the top and I came to the lake. Honestly it was more of a pond than a lake. I was a little disappointed. Then we began the journey back so when it was all said and done I walked six miles. Now that's not a lot for some of you freaks.
No, for some of you who are more fit, but for me that was a long walk. But you know what? We all need a guy like Paul in our life that pushes us forward. Because we get discouraged. We think I can't go on another step. I'm worn out. I'm done. And it's good to have a Christian friend that's saying, you can go further. You can do more. Let me help you. Let me encourage you.
So I hope you have that person in your life and I hope you are that person. And someone else's life because sometimes we find ourselves going the wrong direction fast. Because if you're not moving forward in your relationship with Christ you're naturally going backwards.
You're either going this way or you're going that way. But there's no standing still in the Christian life. And I bring this up because there's been a few stories in the news. I've even been asked about these things in interviews of some notable people who basically said we're no longer Christians. And we get asked about what happened. How can a person be a Christian and even a leader and then one day say they're not a Christian.
Well it's an interesting question. Because I don't know if they were Christians to start with. Just because someone makes a profession of faith doesn't mean they're necessarily a Christian. But maybe when we hear a story like that it concerns us because we think, am I next? Am I going to abandon my faith?
Well really the answer is that is entirely up to you. But here is one thing I would bring to your attention. One of the signs of the last days is some would fall from the faith. Because we are told over in 2 Timothy chapter 4 the Holy Spirit speaks clearly that in the last days some would fall from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and the doctrines that demons teach. I think one way you know you're going in the wrong direction is when you question Scripture.
Let me put it another way. You know you're going the wrong way if you're challenging Scripture. It's not bad to question Scripture. You're going to come up across passages that don't make sense to you and you can find someone that's been reading the Bible for a while or talk to a pastor and they can give you clarification. But there's a difference between that and challenging Scripture where you come to a verse and you say, well I don't like what that verse says because I've chosen to live this way and I don't want to do what the Bible says. Now that's a different matter altogether. Someone once asked me a few years ago, if you come to a passage in the Bible you don't agree with what do you do? My answer was change your opinion. You're wrong.
Right? I mean is the Bible the Word of God or not? So we don't adapt the Bible to our lifestyle. We adapt our lifestyle to the Bible and understand that this is God's inspired Word that He has given to us. But this goes back to the temptation about Him and Eve in the garden. The devil came to them and what did He really say? He said, did God really say what you thought He said? You can eat of any tree including this one right here because in the day you eat you'll become like a God knowing good and evil.
Eve check it out. You'll be a goddess girl. Adam listen you're going to be a deity. Forget what God said.
God doesn't know what He's talking about. Listen to me. I'm telling you the truth. I'm completely sincere in what I'm saying. You can trust me. That's a snake reference if you're missing it. And they did trust Him and we are all paying the price because of it.
Point number two. A true believer may stumble but they will ultimately return to God. And if they do not return to God then they never were really a true believer. Again a true believer may stumble but they will ultimately return to God.
If they do not return to God then they were never really a true believer. Now you're probably aware that I've written a book called Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon. You're thinking, Greg why did you write a book about him? Well I've always been fascinated with Johnny Cash. I've always liked his music. To me he's kind of a sound all his own.
No one is really like him and he's not really like anybody else. But I grew up thinking I was related to Johnny Cash because I lived for a few years with my grandparents while my mom was out living her crazy life. And so Charles and Stella McDaniel. And so whenever Johnny Cash got in trouble and he was arrested multiple times my grandfather would say to my grandmother, Stella your cousin is in trouble again.
And I thought, what? I am related to Johnny Cash? And as it turns out my grandmother's maiden name was Fowler Cash and she was from a city in Arkansas not far from where Johnny Cash was born.
So maybe I'm a distant distant cousin you know. But I was aware of him way way back. And then when I became a Christian I realized that Johnny Cash was a Christian as well. And of course he sang at Minnie Billy Graham Crusades. But he was the man in black. He was called by some the godfather of cool.
Another called him the voice of America. Chris Christofferson who knew Cash well said he was like Abraham Lincoln with a wild side. But Johnny got himself into a lot of trouble. And Johnny struggled with drug use and drinking and other things throughout his life. And there were a lot of up and downs.
But he had a deep faith in Christ. Johnny once said quote, sometimes I'm two people. Johnny is the nice one and Cash causes all my trouble. They fight. Well isn't that like a lot of us?
Don't we have the dual natures that are constantly fighting? Only Simon Peter had it. Because his name was Simon and Jesus gave him a new name which was Peter.
Which means rock. He didn't have a new name for all the disciples. But he had a new one for Simon. Here's your new name buddy. You're the rock.
That's pretty cool. Now Simon didn't always act like a rock. He got himself into trouble. But Simon caused him all the trouble and Peter was the good one if you will. In fact it was Simon Peter that told us that if we do certain things we'll never stumble or fall. In his second epistle he writes, 2 Peter 1.3, God has given us through His divine power everything we need for godly living. And then he tells us we must have faith and to our faith we must add moral excellence and to our moral excellence we must add knowledge and to our knowledge we must add endurance and love for others. And then he says if we do these things we'll never stumble or fall. He goes on to say if you do these things you'll never fall away. And God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So here's what Peter's saying.
The Christian life is one of constant growth. Listen. You don't reach some plateau where you know it all. The moment you think you know it all you probably know a lot less than you think you know. A wise Christian, a smart Christian, a growing Christian realizes there's always so much to learn.
Right? And you know there's so much in your life that needs to still change as you're transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. And who better to tell us about this than Simon Peter. And we learn what Peter has to say when Pastor Greg continues our message in just a moment.
We're encouraged when we hear that Pastor Greg's teachings are making an impact on people's lives and health. I grew up as a Christian. I accepted Christ.
I was six years old and I lived in a Christian family and married my lifelong sweetheart and we have an incredible wonderful Christian marriage. In 2020 I came down with COVID. I'm a healthy individual, served 30 years in the military but this COVID hit me extremely hard. It was so bad that my wife finally ended up dropping me off at the hospital and we said goodbyes to each other. I thought I was a dead man. Through lots of prayer God brought me back to life and saved my life. Once I started down the road of recovery I analyzed my life, my spiritual, my mental and my physical.
My mental was fine. My physical needed a little bit of work as I wanted to lose some weight and my spiritual definitely needed work. I started down this path with Pastor Greg and listened to his podcast every day that I work out. Now two years later, 50 pounds lighter and a spiritual health that includes a daily walk with Jesus, listening to Greg's podcast and reading my Bible, I'm in so much of a better place. Thank you so much for your daily gift of the podcast from Pastor Greg. What a great story of how Pastor Greg's teachings from God's word have made an impact in this man's life. And if you'd like to listen to Pastor Greg's podcasts, you can do that through Google, Apple or Spotify, or just go to harvest.org. That's harvest.org and drop Pastor Greg a note if you like, Greg at harvest.org. Pastor Greg is offering some important counsel today from Simon Peter, counsel on avoiding backsliding and staying on track in our walk with God.
And our thanks to our harvest partners and others who support this outreach for helping to make today's study available. Simon Peter, he's famous for his legendary faux pas where he said things he shouldn't have said. And he's also very well known for the fact that he openly denied the Lord, not once, not twice, but three times. So I want to look for a few moments in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John at the steps that led to Peter's fall and how he got back up again.
And I think in these steps we'll learn about things we want to try to avoid. And before we come to our first passage, let me sort of set the scene here in Luke 22. Jesus is in the upper room with his disciples. He's headed to the cross. He's told them he's headed to the cross.
He's going to break bread with them and tell them to do this in remembrance of him. But before that he has a fascinating conversation with Simon Peter, Luke 22 verse 31. Jesus says, Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat, but I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your face should not fail. And when you have repented and turned to me again, you'll strengthen your brothers. Peter said, Lord, I'm ready to go to prison with you and even to die with you. Jesus said, let me tell you something.
Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even knew me. Put yourself in Peter's sandals for a moment. You're just hanging out with Jesus.
He's not his normal jubilant self. He seems very serious, very intense. And then he turns to you and uses your name twice. Paul, Paul, Kathy, Kathy, Greg, Greg, Cindy, Cindy, Satan has been asking that you be taken out of the care and protection of God. Would that freak you out if Jesus said that to you?
Freak me out. And it's interesting that he says Satan has been asking for you. He'll say, you know the devil has been really hassling me lately. The devil has been tempting me. I seriously doubt most of us listening to this message have been tempted by Satan himself. Now understand, you are tempted by one of his minions, not those minions, not the cute ones.
No. By one of his demons. Because demons are fallen angels. Satan has a network of fallen angels or demons that do his dirty work, etc.
So you are tempted by Satan in effect but probably not by him directly. You see the devil is not the equal of God. God is omnipotent which means all powerful. Satan though powerful has limitations. God is omniscient which means all knowing. Satan is knowledge but not equal to that of God.
God is omnipresent which means present everywhere. The devil can only be in one place at one time. But here is my point, the devil himself came looking for Peter. But Jesus then says, I have prayed for you. And I want you to know that the Bible says Christ lives to make intercession for you at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is in effect praying for you. So the next time the devil comes knocking at your door, send Jesus to answer it. That's what happened here. I have prayed for you Peter that your faith would not fail for when you have returned you will strengthen your brothers.
Returned? Lord, Peter says, I will go to prison for you. I will die for you.
Well since you brought it up, Rock, you are going to deny that you knew me three times. So he warned Peter. That brings us to Peter's first step down. And I would say that this particular attitude is at the root of any and every person who has ever fallen away from the faith or any person who has ever stumbled or fallen. I don't care what the particular sin is they're involved in.
It always starts here. And it's self confidence. Self confidence, verse 33, he said, Lord I'm ready to go with you to prison and to death. Jesus said, Peter the rooster will not crow this day until you deny three times that you knew me. According to Matthew's gospel Peter added this detail. Even if all are made to stumble, I will never be made to stumble.
How did this come up? Jesus said, one of you is going to betray me. And the one who is dipping with me right now is the one. And they would take their little pieces of bread and dip it into the sauces like we might have chips and salsa. Who likes chips and salsa here? I love chips and salsa. I go into a feeding frenzy with chips and salsa.
Anyway, so think of yourself with your friends. You know you're dipping your chip. Please don't double dip.
Ok. Because some of you do that and I'm going to point you out today because this has to stop. No. It's one dip then you eat the chip. New chip. Next. Ok anyway.
Because I don't like to see residue in the you know anyway. So here they are. They are having chips and salsa so to speak. And Jesus says the guy who is dipping his chip in the salsa is the one who is going to betray me. At that moment Judas has a chip in the salsa. Everyone looks at Judas.
He's like, DOPE! You know. Whatever you do. Do it quickly says Jesus. Now he says, these other things that Peter says, though all deny you, I'm not a lightweight like Judas.
And even if these others betray you, I, Rock, the guy you gave the new name to will never betray you. Careful now. You look at someone who falls into a sin you'd say, I'd never do that. I'd never be faithful to my wife. I'd never become an alcoholic. I'd never become a drug addict. I'd never do that thing.
Hold on now buckaroo. You have the capacity to do that and much worse. And it's when we think I'll never do that that you're trusting in yourself instead of trusting in God. The Bible says pride goes before a fall and an arrogant spirit before destruction. So this simply means that I go through life aware of the fact of my weakness and my vulnerability and my propensity to do the wrong thing. As the old song says, prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
Prone to leave the one I love. Self confidence and that leads to the next step down, prayerlessness. Now I don't even know if prayerlessness is a word. How many of you think it could be a word? Raise your hand. We have a quorum.
It's a word. Prayerlessness. Just not praying about things. Look at Luke 22 verse 39. Looking out he went to the Mount of Olives as he was accustomed and his disciples followed him to the place and he said to them, Pray that you enter not into temptation.
Now this place being referred to by Luke is the Garden of Gethsemane. As he was withdrawn from them about a stone so he knelt down and prayed, saying, Father, if it is your will take this cup away from me. Nevertheless not my will but yours be done. When he rose from prayer he came to his disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow and he said why did you sleep, rise and pray lest you enter into temptation. So this second sin of prayerlessness was a direct result of the first sin of self confidence. Jesus said specifically, you guys you need to pray.
And they decided to sleep instead. And so they're sleeping when they should have been praying. And you know understand this, not praying about something can actually be a sin. It's a sin of omission. A sin of commission is doing what you should not do. A sin of omission is not doing what you should do.
Because the Bible says to him that knows to do good and does not do it to him it is sin. So what do we do instead of pray a lot of the time? We worry. Like that's going to really help, worrying. But yet we're told in Philippians don't worry about anything. Pray about everything. And the peace of God that passes all human understanding will guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
So we don't pray. Oh I can handle this God. I'll fix that Lord.
Wait a second. Pray about it. Lord I need your help right now. I need your provision right now. I need your healing right now. I've tried to fix my marriage Lord.
And it's only gotten worse. And I'm at the point now where I'm tired of trusting in myself. And I'm calling out to you Lord. Heal my marriage. By the way this is not a personal statement I'm making right now. I'm just sort of putting myself in someone else's shoes. But every marriage could always use some help including mine right. And yours. But maybe your marriage is hanging by a thread.
And the threads on fire. Or I thought it could overcome this addiction and I've tried on my own strength. But I keep falling back into it. Lord help me.
See that's the idea. You're calling out to God in prayer. Pastor Greg Lorry with important counsel to help us seek the Lord in those times of desperation.
And Pastor Greg has more insight to come as this study continues here on A New Beginning. Okay. So Johnny Cash, Steve McQueen and Billy Graham all go to heaven. Sounds like they're set up to a joke doesn't it?
But it's not. They all went to heaven. Yes.
Pastor Greg wouldn't you love to have been a fly on the wall for some of their early conversations? Are there flies in heaven? No. They're not.
Beelzebub, another name for Satan means Lord of the Flies. So there'll be no flies in heaven. I think I can safely assure you of that. I'm so glad. And I'm glad of it.
Because I hate flies. Yeah. But yes, they are all in heaven. Now, of course, we expect to hear that Billy Graham is in heaven. But Steve McQueen, Johnny Cash, you better believe it.
Because they all believed in Jesus. And Billy is sort of like the glue in these other relationships. I've written books on all of the men you just mentioned. I wrote a book called Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon. Another book on Billy Graham, The Man I Knew.
And I wrote a book called Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon. Johnny was very close with Billy. They were actually friends. Their wives were friends. He spent a lot of time together.
Of course, Johnny performed at Billy Graham Crusades. But Billy played a key role in the life of Steve McQueen as well. As McQueen tragically got cancer and was going to get treatment and wanted to meet Billy. And Billy met with him and prayed for him and personally gave to Steve his own Bible, which Steve was holding when he was in recovery after his successful surgery. But sadly, Steve died.
But the thing Steve McQueen was holding when he entered eternity was the Bible of Billy Graham. These stories are amazing. And I love to read biographies and I love to watch documentaries.
And I like to write biographies and participate in making documentaries. So I want to tell you about a brand new documentary film about Johnny Cash. This film is called Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon.
It's been produced and directed by the Irwin Brothers. Now, you know them best for their films like Woodlawn, I Still Believe, I Can Only Imagine, and the soon to be released Jesus Revolution. So this is a very high quality film that was made with the cooperation and endorsement of the Johnny Cash estate. We interviewed Johnny's son, John Carter Cash, his sister, Joanna Cash Yates, as well as country superstars who knew him or admired him like Winona Judd.
Also Marty Stewart, Tim McGraw, Cheryl Crow was interviewed as well. The theme of this movie is the spiritual life of this superstar. That's why it's called The Redemption of an American Icon. There's even a gospel presentation in it. So this would be a great film to go to and take someone with you that does not yet know the Lord. It's going to be a fathom event, which means it will be shown in theaters across the United States, hopefully a theater near you.
So I'm hoping you'll go out and see this brand new film, Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon. Dave, tell them what they'd need to do next to get tickets. Well, the easiest way is to go to harvest.org. There at the website, you'll see all the dates for this fathom event. We're happy to make tickets available to say thank you to those who believe in the power of the gospel and in taking that message into unexpected places, friends who support that work with a generous donation. These showings are coming up soon, and tickets are going fast. So go online to harvest.org or call us at 1-800-821-3300.
You can reach us around the clock 24-7 at 1-800-821-3300. You know, Pastor Greg, there's an old saying, you know, everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it, right? Yes. And sometimes people complain about what's going on in Washington. And on Tuesday, we voters get our chance to speak. Isn't that right?
Yeah, Dave. You know, it's really surprising to me how few Christians register and vote. And sometimes they'll say, well, you know, we're not supposed to be of this world.
Oh, please. We live in a country that was born in a time of spiritual awakening, the United States of America. I do believe that this is a country that God has blessed in so many ways. And one of the primary reasons we're having so many problems today, rampant crime on the streets and the unraveling of culture, the redefinition of the family, and so much more is because we've turned away from God. So look, the ultimate solution for America is a spiritual awakening.
It's for men and women, boys and girls, to put their faith in Christ. But there is a place for the political process. We live in representative government. We elect people that go to Washington to represent us. So as we go to the ballot box and we vote, I'm looking for candidates that have as close as I can find.
And what I would define as a biblical worldview. I hope that you will do the same. Register. Vote. Let your voice be heard.
It really matters. If you haven't voted yet, get out there and do it as quickly as possible. We have a voice that needs to be heard in our nation. We have a right to speak up, and I believe we have a responsibility to speak up.
Let's do that together, and let's all go vote. Well, next time, more insights drawn from Peter's denial of Christ. We're looking at the steps to spiritual decline and how to avoid them. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Hey everybody, thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries, follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org. To find out how to know God personally, go to harvest.org and click on Know God.
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