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Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. Coming up today, Pastor Greg Laurie has counsel. Google processes more than eight and a half billion searches every single day. How do we know? We Googled it.
Eight and a half billion searches, and there are seven and a half billion people on the planet. A lot of us are curious. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie speaks to one of the most curious issues of the Christian life. How can we discover God's will for our lives, and how can we align ourselves with His plan?
We'll discover how we can find the fulfillment of living according to God's purpose. How many of you have ever seen that bumper sticker, probably in a car, that says, God is my co-pilot? You've seen that sticker? How many of you have that sticker on your car? Okay, if you do, please take it off now.
I actually saw kind of a response to it a little bit satirical. It said, dog is my co-pilot instead of God. You say, that's sacrilegious. Honestly, I like the dog one better than the God one. Let your dog be your co-pilot. God doesn't want to be your co-pilot. God doesn't even want you in the cockpit, okay? So this is part of the problem is we sort of envision God as God is my co-pilot. God is my wingman. God is my close buddy. Well, you know, look. Yes, it's true.
God will be your friend. But oh no. He wants to be so much more than that. You see? He is the potter and you are the clay. He is the shepherd and you are the sheep. He is the master and you are the servant.
We have got to get this one figured out. In fact, we read over in 1 Corinthians 6, 19 that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us, which we have from God and we are not our own. Do we understand that? You are not your own. Often we will say, well, you know, my wife, my husband, my car, my house, my career, my ministry, my future, my past, my thoughts, my plans, my, my, my. Okay.
It is okay. They have a sense of connection to all those things. But we need to always remember that everything belongs to God. Your possessions belong to God. Your families belong to God. Your future. It all belongs to God.
So listen to this. Our objective in life is not to find out how God can bless our dreams and ambitions. Let me say that again because this is not always what we hear being taught today.
Sometimes even in churches. Our goal in life should not be to get God to bless our dreams and ambitions. Listen. Our goal or our objective is to find His plan and align ourselves with it.
This is really important. Some of you are saying, well, God doesn't care about my dreams. God doesn't care about my ambitions.
He cares. But our goal is not to get God to do what we want Him to do. Our goal should be us doing what He wants us to do because eventually you will figure out God's plans for you are better than your plans for yourself. So never be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God. That is what it means to be a servant.
Hey. That is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus told the story about a group of servants that were given a task to fulfill. And at the end of the story He said in the same way when you obey Me you should say we are unworthy servants and we have simply done our duty. You know sometimes people say, Greg, thank you for all that you do and the sacrifices you make. And you know thank you for that compliment. But honestly I am just doing my duty. And the same is true of all of us. We are just doing what the Lord has called us to do. I don't deserve any special applause or praise for what I do.
Nor do you. We are just doing our duty. Hey. We are just being disciples of Jesus Christ. C. S. Lewis said and I quote, All who are called to salvation are called to discipleship. No exceptions.
No excuses. But listen. Here is the secret many do not know. Here is the sweet spot of the Christian life. In fact this is where you will find life. Do you understand what I mean when I say sweet spot? Like in a racket there is a sweet spot.
And if you hit it you have the maximum control and effect. And there is a sweet spot in the Christian life where it almost becomes effortless. Where you enjoy that life and joy that God wants you to experience. And it is embedded right here in the Great Commission.
So let's look at it again. Matthew 28. We read these words. Jesus speaking, Go and make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this.
I am with you even to the end of the age. We are in a series now on the topic of discipleship. In the last message I asked you are you a disciple. Now I am defining what a disciple actually is. Because I am commanded by Jesus to go into all the world and make disciples. And we all say well that is an amazing idea.
Let's do it. But you can't make a disciple if you are not first a disciple yourself. It takes one to make one. And as I pointed out all disciples are Christians but not all Christians are necessarily disciples. So here is what it comes down to. As a follower of Jesus I should either be being discipled or I should be discipling others. And sometimes I am doing both. There is someone that I am discipling and someone that is discipling me.
You say well what does all this discipling mean. It means that I am taking a younger believer under my wing. I am helping them to get established and get more mature spiritually.
But at the same time I have someone in my life that is helping me to grow as well. This is something we are all called to be. Either be a disciple or a disciple maker and preferably both at the same time. Well where does that start.
No brainer. It is right here in the Great Commission. Be baptized. What does Jesus say. Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Yesterday we baptized a lot of people down there at Pirate's Cove in Newport Beach.
And it was such a joy to talk to people young and old who had been impacted by the gospel. And there was one gentleman that came up to me and he said, You know Greg I have been waiting to be baptized for 30 years. And my response was, I am really glad you are here but why did you wait so long. He goes, I don't know.
I don't know either. I said, well better late than never. But you know if you have accepted Christ you should be baptized. Well wait a second baptism isn't necessary for salvation. Well Bible study isn't necessary for salvation. Nor is prayer. Nor is attending church. But are those good things to do. And Jesus told me specifically in the Great Commission.
He actually broke it out so this is important to him. So we start in a simple act of obedience to be baptized. So begin there. And then number two he says obey his commands. Go into all the world making disciples of all nations.
Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teach these new disciples to obey all my commands. Before I can teach others to obey his commands I first should be obeying his commands. What are his commands?
Well there are many I could cite. But let me sum it up in a simple way. Jesus said if you will love me with all of your heart, soul, and mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. You fulfill the commands.
Think about it for a second. If I love God with all of my heart and all of my soul and all of my mind. I would never want to break the first four of the Ten Commandments.
Which deal with my relationship with God. If I really love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind. I wouldn't want to have another God before him. I wouldn't want to worship a false image.
I wouldn't want to take his name in vain. And if I love my neighbor as myself. I would not want to lie to them. Or steal from them. Or covet something that belongs to them.
And I certainly would not want to murder them. So if I focus on loving God with all of my heart, soul, and mind. And my neighbor as myself. I will fulfill the commands he gives.
Now let's shift gears and go to our second passage. Go over to Luke 14 where Jesus really breaks down what it means to be a disciple. Verse 26. He says if any man comes to me and does not hate.
His father and mother, wife and children, brother and sisters. Yes in his own life he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. I made this point in my last message.
But in case you didn't hear it I want you to know what it is. Number one if you want to be his disciple you must love Jesus more than anyone or anything else. You must love Jesus more than anyone or anything else. When Jesus says hate your father, mother, brother, sisters, etc.
He is not being literal. Because in other passages I am told to love my wife as Christ loves the church. I am told to even love my enemies. Jesus is using a contrasting term to make a larger point.
In effect he is saying your love for God should be so intense that your love for others would be like hatred in comparison. You need to love Jesus more than you love your wife. You need to love Jesus more than you love your husband. You need to love Jesus more than you love your children. You need to love Jesus more than you love your stuff. You need to love Jesus more than you love your life itself. You say well I don't know if that is possible.
Oh it is possible. And listen to this. If you really love Jesus as you ought to he will give you more love for that ornery husband of yours. If you really love Jesus as you ought to he will give you more love for that.
And you know that, dare I say it, sometimes on rare occasions, nagging wife. If you really love Jesus as you ought to, he'll give you love for those crazy teenagers. If you love Jesus as you ought to, he'll give you love, more love for those overbearing parents, right? He'll give you more love. But bend your heart so you must love God more than anyone or anything else. Love him more than your career. Love him more than your ministry.
Love him more than even your life. The Lord told us to take up our cross and follow him. What does that mean?
How do we do that? Well, Pastor Greg has insight on that next. But Pastor Greg, I haven't marked on my calendar that December 10th, this coming weekend, is your birthday. It's one of those round number birthdays.
Dun, dun, dun. Do you want to divulge which birthday this is for you? Yes, Dave, I'm turning 40 on December 10th, and I'm very excited about this. I'm turning 40 plus 30 more years. 40 years, that means that I am 70 years old. So that's pretty old, it's serious now.
Yeah, you can't deny it, you're getting up there. I have an idea. I think listeners would probably love to send you a birthday card. They probably want to send you a gift, but I'm thinking what a great gift it would be if they'd send you a birthday card and jot a few words in that birthday card about how Harvest, about how your ministry, about how your Bible teaching, has touched their life, or touched the life of a family member. Would you like to receive a birthday gift like that?
Yeah, Dave, that would be beautiful. I love to hear the stories that people share of how God has impacted their lives through our ministry. And as far as gifts go, what I really would love them to do is invest in our ministry. You know, I am 70 years old, but the Lord has given me a lot of energy still, and I have a lot of vision for our future, and I think there are great opportunities for us in the very near future. In fact, I believe that we're gonna reach more people in this coming year than we have ever reached in our entire history. One of the reasons for this is the Jesus Revolution feature film that will be released in theaters in February, which has the gospel in it, and I believe thousands of people are gonna pray and receive Christ in movie theaters watching this feature film, and we have a lot of other plans for getting the gospel out in this coming year, so hey, I would love you to invest in what we're doing. That would be a fantastic birthday gift. Yeah, well, it's easy to invest. You can donate as you send that birthday card to Pastor Greg, care of A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514.
Or just go online to harvest.org. Well, today, Pastor Greg is offering important principles about being a genuine disciple. It's a study called What is a Disciple? Point number two, the disciple must take up the cross and follow Jesus. Verse 27, whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. In Luke's gospel over in the ninth chapter, Jesus addresses this again with a little more detail.
He says, if anyone desires to come after me and be my disciple, he must deny himself, listen to this, and take up his cross daily and follow me, for whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. So I know when I make a statement like this, it sounds pretty unappealing. You imagine yourself living this miserable life, you know, sacrificial life, an unhappy life. But as I said in the beginning, this is the way to live as a Christian.
You sort of envision it like your friends call you. Hey, wanna go out and get dinner and a movie tonight? No, I don't wanna do that. Why not? Because I'm bearing the cross.
Wow, okay. What does that mean? It means I'm eating bread, very old stale bread, drinking water, and just staring at the wall.
All the while dressed in sackcloth, yes. That's not bearing the cross, that's being weird, okay? It has nothing to do with bearing the cross, because the fact of the matter is, when you're really bearing the cross, you'll be experiencing life. Don't forget, Jesus said, if you lose your life for my sake, you'll find it. I mean, we wanna find the meaning of life, and people say, you know, I'm learning to love myself. I just don't love myself, but I'm learning to love myself. Oh, stop, you love yourself so much already.
No, I don't, because I'm overweight, and I don't think I'm attractive, and I don't like the way I looked in the last 5,000 selfies that I shot and posted on Instagram yesterday. Yeah, because you love yourself, you took 5,000 selfies. Because you love yourself, you're aware of your appearance. Because you love yourself, you think about yourself. So don't say you're learning to love yourself. You already love yourself, that's an established fact.
Jesus is saying, no, the objective is not to learn to love yourself, it's to deny yourself, and it's to lose yourself. And then you'll find yourself. Sometimes people say, well, I am trying to find myself, and that's just another way of saying, I'm gonna do something really selfish right now. I hate the expression, by the way, I'm gonna go find myself, just shut up, okay? Stop, because this is what I hear when the husband's ready to walk out on the wife and kids. This is what I hear when the wife is abandoning her family.
This is what I hear when a person is gonna make really bad decisions. I'm trying to find myself. No, Jesus says, you actually wanna find yourself, lose yourself, and how do you lose yourself? Answer, by taking up the cross and following him. But what does it mean to bear the cross? We use this phrase, cross bearing, for a lot of things. You know, you might say of your husband, oh, my husband, he's my cross to bear in life.
And he might be saying that about you too, by the way, wife. Or my cross to bear is this neighbor I have, or my cross to bear is this problem I'm facing. No, that's not your cross to bear.
Here's what your cross to bear simply is. It means you die to yourself, and by dying to yourself or losing yourself, you ultimately find yourself. You go, what do you mean by die to self?
Let me illustrate. Dying to self means resisting that temptation to do what everybody else does. Dying to self means to a single person waiting to have sex until you're married. Dying to self if you're a married person means no sex after marriage. Well, let me rephrase that.
With someone besides your spouse. Sometimes dying to yourself means sit down the remote control and or the cell phone and or the tablet device and or whatever electronic gadget you're holding onto the control for the video game and pick up your Bible and read it. Dying to yourself means praying when you'd rather be sleeping. Dying to yourself and taking up the cross means forgiving someone who has hurt you if you feel like it or not. Dying to yourself and taking up the cross means swallowing your pride and telling someone about Jesus. Dying to yourself and taking up the cross means doing what God wants you to do instead of doing what you want to do. Dying to yourself and taking up the cross means leaving your comfort zone and engaging a person in a conversation about Jesus Christ. There's hundreds, maybe even thousands of opportunities every day to die to yourself.
Hey, dying to yourself means getting up in the morning and going to church, because we're not always in the mood to go to church. Are you always in the mood? Really, you aren't? You don't like it here? No, I'm kidding.
No, sometimes we aren't. I heard about a husband and wife that were getting ready for church in the morning and the wife noticed the husband hadn't done a thing to get ready. She's ready to walk out the door. She said, honey, we're going to church.
Why aren't you ready? He says, I'm not going to church today. She said, why? He says, I'll give you three reasons why.
The people in that church are cold. Number two, no one down there likes me. Number three, I just don't wanna go. She said, I'll give you three reasons why you need to go to church today. Number one, the people there are warm.
Number two, some people like you. And number three, you're the pastor, so get dressed. You're the pastor. Let me ask you this, has there ever been a time where you really didn't wanna go to church? You just weren't in the mood or you had the sniffles or there were eight drops of rain or whatever it was, right?
I love how, you know, there's a little rain. We can't go to church, but we can go to the mall or the movies still, right? So whatever it was, he said, no, no, we're going to church because that's what we do.
That's a priority in this. So you went and the moment the worship began, you thought, ah, I was supposed to be here today. Have you ever had a time where I really don't wanna read the Bible. I'm too busy to read the Bible. And you opened it more out of obedience almost and then a verse just jumped off the page and spoke directly to a situation you were dealing with. Has there ever been a time where you really didn't want to leave your comfort zone and engage a person you didn't know in a conversation about Jesus, but you did it out of obedience as a way of denying yourself and taking up the cross and that conversation blew open and it resulted in that person coming to Christ.
You see, that's what it means. We die to ourself. We take up the cross and we follow Him. Pastor Greg Laurie pointing out the self-sacrificing life of discipleship, how it's the most rewarding life we can live. And there's more to come as Pastor Greg continues his series called Discipleship, The Road Less Taken here on A New Beginning. You know, Pastor Greg, here at Harvest Ministries, our mission statement is knowing God and making Him known. We're all about sharing the hope of Jesus Christ. And to that end, you're inviting everyone to go to the movies.
Explain that. Well, Jesus said go into all the world and preach the gospel. And I don't think that excludes movie theaters. I believe we need to go to where people are.
Jesus did not say that the whole world should go to church, but he did say the church should go to the whole world. So here at Harvest, we're always looking for creative, new, and innovative ways to reach unexpected people and unexpected places with an unexpected message. And listen, people love movies. We've seen so many bad films come out of Hollywood, films that undermine what we believe as Christians. Here's a redemptive film, but a very high quality film, a film you're gonna wanna see probably again and again. And the title of this film is Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon. This documentary was done by the Irwin Brothers, best known for their films, The Jesus Music, I Can Only Imagine, I Still Believe, Woodlawn, and the new feature film that will be released next year, Jesus Revolution.
So this film was done in cooperation with the Cash estate, meaning the family supported it. In fact, we interview members of the Cash family, including Johnny's son, John Carter Cash, his sister, Joanna Cash, plus people that knew him or worked with him or admired him, like Winona Judd, John Schneider from the Dukes of Hazzard, Sheryl Crow, Marty Stewart, and Tim McGraw. So there's gonna be unique footage, maybe that you've never seen, of Johnny performing in different prisons like San Quentin. You're gonna see him on his television show. You're gonna see him performing at a Billy Graham crusade, but you're also gonna see some things that show the struggles that Johnny went through. He had a lot of highs and lows. He had a lot of ups and downs. That's why this film is called The Redemption of an American Icon. And oh yes, Johnny Cash was really an American icon. Multiple generations love him. He has a timeless appeal, and you're gonna love this film, which by the way, will have the gospel in it.
So it'd be a great film to bring a non-believer. And as they say in the commercials, here's Dave to tell you more. Yeah, tickets are easy to get. Just go to our website at harvest.org.
There you'll see the dates for each fathom showing. And you can arrange the tickets right there on the site. Or call 1-800-821-3300. We're making tickets available to thank those who partner with us, making a generous donation to help keep bringing you these daily studies, and to make evangelistic documentaries like this available. So many people may never accept your invitation to come to church, but they'll go to the movies with you. So invite someone who doesn't yet know the Lord to come with you to see Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon. Again, for tickets, go to harvest.org. Or call 1-800-821-3300. 1-800-821-3300.
And you can call any time, 24-7. Well, next time, Pastor Greg continues his series, Discipleship, The Road Less Taken. We'll see disciples are those who make the biggest impact for our culture. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie.
This is the day, the day when life begins. 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. And to find out how to know God personally, go to harvest.org and click on Know God.
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