Hey, everybody. You're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at gregg.harvest.org. Again, it's gregg.harvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. But also allow that thankfulness to express itself. Verbalize your thanksgiving. Say, thank you, Lord. You know, we're so quick to go to God when we have a problem. And thankfully, he welcomes us in prayer. Oh, Lord, help me with this. Oh, Lord, intervene over here.
Oh, Lord, step in here. And he answers our prayer. Fine.
Good. Now give thanks. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.
Again, you hear all the angels are singing. This is the day, the day when life begins. Thanksgiving is almost here. And I love Thanksgiving for a number of reasons.
There's not all the pressure with all of the presents. I was talking to my granddaughter Stella a while ago and I said, Stella, what is your favorite holiday of the year? I thought she'd say Christmas, Thanksgiving, she said. Thanksgiving, even more than Christmas, yes.
I said, why? She gave me a one word answer, food. Yeah, that makes sense, food.
Food's a good thing, right? Now I don't know how your Thanksgiving meal looks. We of course have turkey, we have sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows on them.
We have string beans with sliced almonds. We have cornbread stuffing. We have mashed potatoes, gravy. Gravy's good on everything. Just, you can never have too much gravy.
And of course, I think it's a law now. We have pumpkin pie. So it's a great time. And you know, I think all of us collectively overeat on Thanksgiving, right? You know you've overeaten on Thanksgiving when your weight would be perfect for a man who is 17 feet tall.
So right, that's it. You know you've had too much to eat on Thanksgiving when you decide to take a little nap and you wake up in mid-July. You know you had too much to eat for Thanksgiving when getting off your couch requires help from the fire department. Or you know you've had too much to eat when you get on the escalator and it comes to a grinding halt. You know you've had too much to eat on Thanksgiving when you're sweating gravy. Okay, that's gross, isn't it?
But, so don't let that happen to you. But Thanksgiving is a holiday in our nation where we give thanks to God for his blessing. But as I said earlier, for the Christian, every day should be Thanksgiving.
There are, minus the turkey. And there are so many verses in the Bible that encourage us and urge us and command us to give thanks to God. I think of 1 Thessalonians 5, 18. It says, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ concerning you. Sometimes people say, I don't know what the will of God is for my life.
I know one thing that's a will of God. He commands you to give thanks. And notice it says, in everything give thanks. Sometimes it's easier to give thanks than others, isn't it?
The birth of a baby. But it's not as easy to give thanks when there is the passing of a loved one. It's easy to give thanks when your health is good and the lights are green and the sky is blue and the bills are paid. It's not as easy to give thanks when you're having poor health or you're having problems in other areas of your life. But the key is, the Bible says, we should give thanks regardless of what is happening because Psalm 106 says, give thanks unto the Lord for he is good and his mercy endures forever. Now listen, if God ceases to be good, you no longer need to give thanks. But of course, God will always be good. Therefore, you should always give thanks, the Bible says in Philippians 4, rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. And by the way, when Paul wrote that, he was not kicking back in some beach eating a falafel. Paul was in prison and yet in prison, he is saying rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. I mean think about poor Job and one day he basically lost everything including his seven sons and his three daughters.
It's really unimaginable. And yet we read that Job gave thanks. Job 1 21 says, Job spoke to the Lord and said, naked came I from my mother's womb, naked shall I return there. The Lord gives, the Lord is taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord. So what we need is an attitude of gratitude and if you have this attitude of gratitude, it will change everything about your life. It'll change your emotions. It will change the way that you feel.
It will actually make you a healthier person. You know a lot of interesting research has been done on the topic of gratitude. And experts have noted that people who are thankful have better health than people who are not. One expert said and I quote, the expression of gratitude is a kind of meta strategy for achieving happiness, end quote.
Isn't that interesting? An attitude of giving thanks. Robert Ammons, a PhD expert on the subject of gratitude, made this statement, quote, gratitude reduces toxic emotions ranging from envy and frustration and it reduces depression and actually increases happiness, end quote. Bottom line, thankful people are happy people.
So this is something we need to be very intentional about. In fact, gratitude and giving thanks can actually change your mood. And you might just start with smiling. Did you know that it takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 muscles to frown? And experts have found that smiling triggers mood boosting neurotransmitters, including endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.
How about that? So let's all practice, because you're not smiling, sir. Let's all smile on the count of three.
One, two, three, go. Hey, I gotta get a picture of this. Just smile, hold it, hold it, hold it. Now look at the person next to you and smile. It's a really awkward moment. Oh, weird, weird, weird, smile. Smile, keep smiling.
Little bit more, just a little more. Very good. That's actually good for you in every way, to just simply smile. So here's what the Bible says. It says that we should give thanks to Him regardless of our circumstances, because sometimes thanksgiving is an act of sacrifice. The Bible actually talks about offering the sacrifice of praise, giving thanks to the Lord with the fruit of our lips.
That's interesting. So it's not just do it when you feel like it, because you don't always feel like it. Do it because God is good. But then do it with the fruit of your lips, and otherwise, verbalize your thanksgiving. Say, thank you, Lord. You know, we're so quick to go to God when we have a problem. And thankfully, He welcomes us in prayer. Oh, Lord, help me with this. Oh, Lord, intervene over here.
Oh, Lord, step in here, and He answers our prayer. Fine, good. Now, give thanks. Lord, that was not a coincidence. That was your blessing. That was your provision. Thank you, Lord.
Just as surely as a husband and wife need to verbalize their love one to another, so Christians should verbalize their love to God. Bring to Him the glory that is due His name. We all know the story of those 10 lepers that were healed.
Leprosy was an incurable disease. They came and begged Jesus to heal them. He answered their prayer, and only one came back to give thanks, and Jesus noted, didn't I heal 10 people?
Where are the other nine? And what's interesting about the one guy that came back is it says he praised Jesus with a loud voice, and that phrase loud voice comes from two root words, and we get our English word megaphone from it. So this guy kind of made up for the others. Make sure that you use your megaphone to give thanks to God for all that He has done for you. So if you're taking notes, here's a few takeaway points, and we're gonna look at the book of Acts. Number one, to give thanks as a Christian, I must first realize that God is in control of my life. To give thanks as a Christian, I must first realize that God is in control of my life. God's in control, not us.
Sometimes we think we're running the show. No, God is ultimately. Proverbs 16 verse nine says we can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps. Jeremiah 10 23 says I know, Lord, that a person's life is not his own.
No one is able to plan his own course, and that's true. God is sovereign, and what does it mean when we say God is sovereign? It means that God is able to do what He pleases with whomever He chooses whenever He wishes.
Let me say that again. God is able to do what He pleases with whomever He chooses whenever He wishes. Psalm 115 three says our God is in heaven. He does whatever He pleases. So listen, what about when bad things happen in life? God either did it or God allowed it.
I know that's hard for some of us to swallow. He either did it or He allowed it, and if He allowed it, in time, we will ultimately see the purpose even for that. Psalm 119 91 says everything serves your plans, everything. Of course, Romans 8 28, we know that all things work together for good for those that love God. You know, I think when we get to heaven, we're gonna see things differently, and I think that we're gonna realize that some things we thought were bad this side of heaven were actually good in God's master plan for our lives. So number one, to give thanks, I must first realize God is in control of my life. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his 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 at six years old, and I lived in a Christian family and married my lifelong sweetheart, and we had a 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, 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. Pastor Greg at harvest.org. Well, today, Pastor Greg is offering some important insights on thankfulness. First, to give thanks as a Christian, we must first realize God is in control of our lives.
Let's continue. Number two, to give thanks, I must realize that he loves me and is always looking out for my eternal benefit. Now, that's an important distinction because I can accept the fact God's in control and God is sovereign, but if I perceive that God is harsh or angry or vengeful, that's kind of a scary thought. Well, this really powerful God who makes all the ultimate decisions is not really happy with me.
No, understand this. That same God who is in control and is sovereign, he loves you and he's looking out for my eternal benefit, even if what I'm presently going through is difficult. 2 Corinthians 4.17. Paul writes and says our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long, yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever. So don't look at the troubles you see right now.
Rather, look forward to what you have not yet seen, for the troubles you see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever. It can be summed up in a biscuit. How many of you like biscuits, raise your hand, you love biscuits?
I just love biscuits, love them. And this goes back to my childhood. I've told you before, my grandmother, Stella, and my grandfather, Charles, we called them Mama Stella, Daddy Charles. And Mama Stella was an incredible cook, chef, really. She made everything from scratch and we would have that great southern cooking every night, you know, fresh fried chicken and collard greens and okra and black eyed peas. But her crowning achievement, of course, was her biscuit. And as Mama Stella was getting on in years, I had Kathy, who's an amazing chef. If you follow me on Instagram, you know the amazing food I eat all the time.
But check it out. But anyway, so Kathy, who's an amazing chef, I said to Kathy, you've got to watch Mama Stella make the biscuit, no one makes a biscuit like her. And the ingredients were so incredibly simple. I mean, really, all it was was vegetable oil, self-rising flour, and buttermilk.
Did I leave anything on? That's it. And he wants her to make it. It's like, it's so simple, anyone can do this.
But no one can do it quite like her. None of those ingredients are appealing on their own. Are you gonna have a glass of vegetable oil? I'm gonna eat a little self-rising flour.
Nah, no you won't. And some people like buttermilk. How many of you like buttermilk crazy?
I don't like buttermilk. But I sure like it when it's used to produce a biscuit. So she takes all of these elements, mixes them together in expert hands, and put them in a very hot oven. And the result is something that we all agreed was good. And the same way God takes all of the events of our life, the good things, the so-called bad things, and mixes them together, and then puts them in an oven of adversity.
And when it comes out, ultimately we say it is good. So we have to be patient with the Lord. One final point to give thanks. I must realize that God is far wiser than I am. He's far wiser. Again, he's looking out for the eternal good.
He's looking at the big picture. Let's use the example of going to the dentist. How many of you like to go to the dentist? I didn't expect to see it. Really?
No, I don't believe you, sir. But who likes to go to the dentist? But it's important, isn't it? So you go to the dentist, and I just went the other day, and they do a teeth cleaning. And you know, they're looking around, and then sometimes she may, or whoever's cleaning her teeth, may say, doctor, come in here.
And I don't like it when they say that because that means trouble, and that means a lot of things. That means expense, and it probably means some amount of pain, and the drills. Oh, the drills, I can't stand the drills. They bring out those drills, and then the misery begins. But it's better than the alternative, right?
Maybe I have a cavity, and I need to get the cavity filled. Far better than having something worse happen. So we don't enjoy it at the time, but the ultimate result is good. So now we're gonna shift gears, and we're gonna look at a story in the Bible in Acts chapter 16. This is an example of two men who saw the good despite the bad.
They saw God in the darkest of places, and those two men were Paul and Silas. So let's read a passage together, but first I want you to do something. Smile again, smile. It's good to smile. Now stop, you're doing it too long.
Because it can get weird really fast. All right, Acts chapter 16. I'm gonna read a few verses from the New Living Translation. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. This is speaking of Paul and Silas. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn't escape, so he took no chances and put them in the inner dungeon and clamped their feet into the stops. Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, and the prison was shaken at its foundations, and the doors flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off.
The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself, and Paul shouted to him, "'Don't do it, we're still here.'" Trembling with fear, the jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down before Paul and Silas and brought them out and asked, "'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'" And they replied, "'Believe on the Lord Jesus, "'and you'll be saved, along with your entire household.'" Then they shared the word of the Lord with him, and all who lived in his household. In the same hour, the jailer washed their wounds, and he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized, and he brought them into his house and sent a meal before them, and he and his entire household believed, and they all believed in God.
We'll stop there. What a great story this is. You wanna talk about tough circumstances, but how things can turn around so quickly.
Why was this jailer changed so quickly? Because he saw two men that were willing to bring a sacrifice of praise to God, regardless of their circumstances. At nighttime, in the inner part of the dungeon, this is a torture chamber.
They are chained up in the worst conditions imaginable, and at the midnight hour, they start singing praises to God. We all know what it's like to wake up in the middle of the night and be gripped by panic, or fear, or anxiety, and that's the moment when we turn our troubles over to the Lord. We're looking at a practical example of seeing the good inside the bad. Pastor Greg Laurie, with insights from Acts 16 today, here on The New Beginning. Well Pastor Greg, we're excited about the new film on the life of Johnny Cash, and we'll tell our friends how to see it in just a moment, but when other people see the life of Johnny Cash, they see country music, or they see the crazy things he did that made the newspapers or they see the man in black, they see an entertainment icon, but you see something more.
What is it you see? Well I see a man just like us. You know, that's what I love about Johnny Cash, is he was authentic, he was real, he was flawed, he was brilliant, he was extraordinarily talented, and he was very godly. I mean, who else could be friends with Willie Nelson and Billy Graham at the same time? Who else could play at a Billy Graham crusade on Monday and then be headlining a Vegas venue on Friday? The answer to that is Johnny Cash. So Johnny Cash is a contradiction, he's an enigma.
He's a person we can relate to. So folks know that I've written a book on Johnny Cash called Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon, but listen, now we have a brand new documentary film on Johnny Cash opening in a theater near you. It's gonna be a Fathom event.
So a Fathom event is basically when this organization, Fathom, will book hundreds of theaters around the United States for an exclusive showing of something. So you will be able to go and see this movie, hopefully in a theater near you, and you can see the spiritual story of Johnny Cash. There's been other documentaries made about Cash and they're great, but we decided to approach it from a spiritual angle, hence the subtitle, The Redemption of an American Icon. Yes, we tell the story of the rise and the fall and the rise again of Johnny. We look at his career, its ups and downs. We look at his spiritual ups and downs, but it is a redemptive story. And there's some amazing people that participated in this documentary, folks that we interview that talk about how they knew Cash or what they knew of the spiritual life of Cash, people like his own son, John Carter Cash, his sister, Joanne Cash.
Not only that, but we have interviews with Tim McGraw, Winona Judd, Marty Stewart, and Sheryl Crow, and others. So many people wanted to be a part of this because they admired Johnny, they loved Johnny. He made such an impact, and I think it's really a mistake to define Johnny Cash as merely a country music icon. Oh, he was that, but in a way, Johnny had a musical style that was all his own.
Everybody knows when a Johnny Cash song is playing. He appealed to multiple generations. My grandparents loved him. My parents' generation loved him. I loved him. Kids today love him.
And people are discovering him for the first time. So you want to see this film. This is a cutting edge, brand new, beautiful film produced by the Irwin Brothers. Of course, the Irwin Brothers brought us the Jesus music documentary.
They also brought us I Can Only Imagine, I Still Believe, Woodlawn, and next year, the brand new feature film, Jesus Revolution, that's based on my life in the Jesus movement. So this is a film you don't want to miss. It's probably going to be showing in a theater near you, and we want to make tickets available for you to see Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon.
Yeah, that's right. It's coming to theaters across the country. Contact us right away as we have a limited number of tickets available, and it's such a joy to make complimentary tickets available to those who support us with a generous donation. Claim your tickets and invest in Harvest Ministries by going to harvest.org. When you support this ministry, you make it possible for us to reach unexpected people in unexpected places with an unexpected message, as we're doing with Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon. Again, it's a Fathom event, and you'll find the dates on our website. Tickets are limited, so contact us today. Go to harvest.org, or call 1-800-821-3300.
That's a 24-hour phone number, 1-800-821-3300. Well, next time, Pastor Greg offers more practical encouragement about thankfulness and praise in the midst of busy, challenging lives. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life, share your story, leave a review on your favorite podcast app, and help others find hope.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-23 05:29:28 / 2022-11-23 05:41:02 / 12