Today's episode of A New Beginning is brought to you by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.
Learn more at harvest.org. And while you're there, browse our library of free ebooks designed to help you grow in your faith. Do you think it ever crossed the mind of the very young Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah? Mary was not a VIP, not a notable person in her community, but she was noticed by God.
Pastor Greg Laurie says her story brings hope. Mary was a nobody in a nothing town in the middle of nowhere. Do you ever feel that way? I'm a nobody. I'm in a nowhere town. No one cares about me. God cares about you.
And know this, God uses nobodies. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Again you hear all the angels are singing. This is the day, the day where life begins.
In the age of social media, people can make themselves seem quite important, quite successful, but it often only amplifies the difference between life as it is and life as they want it to be. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie has hope for anyone who's feeling small, unnoticed, disregarded, and dismissed. Hope for anyone who isn't experiencing the joy of the Christmas season. We'll see how God stepped into the human story and he can step into your story and mine.
This is the day, the day when life begins. Heard about a Sunday school teacher that went to Israel. She bought one of those little Nativity sets made out of olive wood and so she was traveling back home and she was taking it as carry-on and they were going over it very carefully. The security people were looking at every single piece of her Nativity set. There's Mary and Joseph and a couple of camels and the shepherds and the wise men and they're carefully searching every single figure from her Nativity set. And finally she said, she said, why are you scrutinizing of this Nativity set so carefully?
And the answer from the security guy was, well we want to make sure there's nothing explosive in them. Well the fact of the matter is there is something very explosive in the Christmas story. Not in a Nativity set per se, but in the story itself because the Christmas story is really our introduction to the gospel story. And Paul said that the gospel is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes. So I want to read that story with you. I hope you have your Bible or an app open on your tablet or phone.
And I hope you'll read along. By the way I'm reading from the New King James Version. A lot of times I read from the New Living Translation.
In this instance I'm going to King James because I love that traditional structure of this beautiful story. Luke chapter 1 verse 26. Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came into her and said, hail you are highly favored the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women. And when she saw him she was troubled at his saying and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her do not be afraid for you have found favor with God and behold you will conceive in your womb and bring forth the son and you will call his name Jesus.
He will be great and he will be called the son of the highest and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom. There will be no end. Then Mary said to the angel um. I don't know if she said um. I just threw that in. How can this be? Since I do not know a man and the angel answered and said the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the highest will overshadow you. Therefore the Holy One who is to be born will be called the son of God. Now indeed Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible. And behold the maidservant of the Lord said Mary let it be to me according to your word and the angel departed from her.
We will stop there. Let's see if we can unpack this beautiful and powerful story. We are introduced to Mary. Did you know more little girls around the world have been named after Mary than any other girl who ever lived. Mary was the only person who was present at both the birth of Jesus and the crucifixion of Jesus. She saw Jesus and of the world as her son and then he left as her Savior. Mary is the only woman who had Jesus both in her womb and later in her heart. And the Lord chose her. And when he chose her she was living in a tough place to live.
She was living in Nazareth verse 26 says. Now here is the problem with the Christmas story. And it is really not the story itself. It is what we have done with it. We have layered all of these traditions on top of it.
And I think we miss the raw power that the story has. Just take most depictions of the birth of Jesus. They are sprinkled on all this sort of fairy dust you know.
A blue light bathes everybody. And Mary and Joseph have halos. And baby Jesus has a little tiny baby halo. And the animals are all reverent looking with animal halos.
I am not sure. And then there is a wise man over to the side. Well there is all kinds of complexities and problems here. Number one the wise men didn't come until much later. They came when Jesus was a child living in a house. So if you have a nativity set up first of all make sure it is not explosive. And then secondly if the wise men are there remove them immediately. This is unbiblical people.
You can put them back in a week or so. But they came later. But actually this was a very unsanitary difficult horrible place to bring forth a child. That does not to me diminish the story that enhances it as we see what Jesus did to come to us. And when the angel comes to Mary she is living in Nazareth.
That brings me to my first point. Mary lived a godly life in an ungodly place. Mary lived a godly life in an ungodly place. And Nazareth was actually known for its wickedness.
That is why when it was revealed to Nathanael that Jesus was from Nazareth he said can any good thing come out of Nazareth. Certain cities are known for certain things right. You know when you think of Rome we call it the eternal city. Paris is called the city of lights. New York is called the city that never sleeps. And Las Vegas what is that called.
Well you seem to know a lot about that don't you. That is right. It is called Sin City. Nazareth could have been called Sin City too. Nazareth was sort of a place in between two other places.
It is where Roman soldiers would stop on their way to another place. Nazareth was sort of the Barstow of the Bible. You know. Does anyone actually go to Barstow. Let's go to Barstow on vacation.
No. You are on your way to the river and you stop on Barstow. You get an In-N-Out burger.
Maybe you get some gas. So this was a stopover but it was a place where let's put it delicately more than one girl might find herself pregnant because of the presence of so many Roman soldiers. This corrupt city. But in the midst of this city lived a woman who had royal blood coursing through her veins. Mary was of the direct lineage of the house of David. And of course we all know that the Messiah would be born of this house as well. So she was living this holy life in an unholy place. Now this just brings up a simple fact. That wherever you are you can live a godly life. I think sometimes people think oh man you don't know what my family is like or my neighborhood or my workplace or my classroom. There's no way that I can live a godly life in a place like this.
And actually that is not true. Whatever you are facing God will never allow you to be tempted above your capacity to resist. First Corinthians 10 13 says, God won't let you be tempted above your ability to resist but will with the temptation make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it. You might say Greg I can't resist temptation.
It is like that old song. Simply irresistible. No. You can resist it. God will always give you a way out. How many of you have ever been tempted to sin?
Raise your hand. How many of you have given into that temptation? Well don't be all excited about it.
Some are like yeah no. Yeah well okay. Now I want you to go back in your mind to the last temptation you gave into and ask yourself the question was there a way out? And I know the answer.
The answer is yes. Sometimes it's simple as walking through a door. Sometimes it's as simple as terminating the conversation. But the point is she lived a godly life in an ungodly place. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of today's message in just a moment. You know Pastor Greg the last couple of years have been so tough on everybody. Yeah. And not just here in the U.S. but all around the world. You know with the pandemic, with the cultural decline, political chaos, economic chaos, and certainly spiritual chaos.
Many companies are scaling back and many are just trying to get through it all amidst all the uncertainty. Yeah. But Harvest Ministries seems to be doubling down in its mission in 2023.
Tell us about that. Yeah you know Dave the Bible says when the enemy comes in like a flood the spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him. Listen this is not the time to retreat. This is the time to advance. This is not the time to lose ground. It's time to gain ground. And by that I mean we march forward. Jesus said we are the church and the gates of hell will not prevail against us.
What does that mean? Think of one of those old movies you've seen where they're storming the castle and there's the big gate in front. And of course they're pouring the boiling oil over the side of the wall. So what do they do? They get a battering ram. Maybe they even set the battering ram on fire and keep hitting the gate till it finally opens.
So here's the picture. We're the folks with the battering ram. The fortress is the culture controlled by the power of the devil. So Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against you. It simply means we're going to win as we storm the gates and as we move forward. I'm asking folks listening right now to join us as we storm the gates. Join us as we seek to invade instead of evade.
To permeate instead of isolate. Join us as we seek to get the gospel to as many people as we possibly can. And one way you can do that is through your financial investment in Harvest Ministries.
Here's David to tell you more. Yeah, your investment in Harvest Ministries right now is so strategic. It's the most pivotal time of the year as we're poised to enter a new year of ministry.
A year filled with plans to reach further than we ever have before. Can we count on you to be a partner with us? Get in touch today and let us know you want to become a Harvest partner. Our telephone number is 1-800-821-3300. Call anytime, night or day. And again the number 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org. Well today Pastor Greg is offering inspiring insights based on the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Let's continue. Do you know she was probably around 13 years old. Maybe 14 years old. The Bible is filled with the stories of young people who changed the world. Jeremiah was just a boy when the Lord called him to be a prophet. In fact he even said, Lord I'm just a boy. And the Lord said, don't say you're just a boy.
You just speak the words that I give to you. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Three courageous young men who stood up and worshiped God and would not bow to the golden image erected by Nebuchadnezzar. We look recently at the life of Stephen in the book of Acts and here's this courageous young man who would not compromise. And this is why Paul wrote to young Timothy these words. First Timothy 4-12. Don't let anyone think less of you because you're young.
Be an example to the believers in what you teach and the way you live in your love and your faith and in your purity. See when you're young you're willing to take risks. You're willing to do things that are unexpected. When you get older you become more predictable. You go to the same restaurant. You try to sit in the same seat. You order the same thing. When you come to church you always sit in the same place.
That's true. I know where you all are. You have your little spot. We were in Hawaii last Sunday. I preached at our church, Harvest Kumalani, which is doing so well.
It was great to be there. So I had my family with me and they wanted to jump off this rock into the ocean. I'd done that a couple of years ago. I went there and looked at it and thought, I'm not jumping off that rock anymore. I'm just kind of out of the rock jumping business I think.
She's not thinking about climbing back up and getting scratched or whatever. I remember a number of years ago I just said, I'm not going on another roller coaster. I decided I don't think I ever even liked roller coasters even when I was young. But as you get older it's like that's misery. So you don't like change but young people will take risks. Listen to me. You that are young God wants to use you. You have the future in front of you and you are the generation that God will pour his Spirit on. I urge you. I challenge you to say like Mary said, Lord let it be to me according to your word. You're saying, well I'm going to be like Mary and bring the Messiah forth. No, no. That's a one-off deal. That's taken.
Okay. But God can use you with Christ living in your heart to change the world. Follow the example of this young woman. So Mary was a nobody in a nothing town in the middle of nowhere. Do you ever feel that way? I'm a nobody.
I'm in a nowhere town. No one cares about me. God cares about you.
And know this. God uses nobodies to tell everybody about somebody. Do you think it ever crossed the mind of the very young Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah? Do you think if she sat in the synagogue and maybe heard someone read Isaiah saying that the virgin will conceive and bring forth the son and he will call his name Emmanuel that she said, that's me.
Yeah. I'm seeing myself as the mother of the Messiah. I don't think that thought ever crossed her mind. But indeed God handpicked her to be the fulfillment of this great promise. God chose this young unknown girl in a relatively unknown city to bring about the most known event in all of human history.
She was the fulfillment of a promise that God gave. And the Old Testament has over 500 prophecies about the birth of Messiah. We see it going all the way back to the book of Genesis and right through telling us all about the Messiah. How He would come.
Where He would come. Even giving us a sense of when He would come. And it is just a reminder that God keeps His promises. The angel even affirms in verse 37 every promise of God will surely come true. So if God has kept His promise to send Jesus the first time.
No. He will keep His promise that Christ will come again the second time. Jesus said, I will come again. We can take that to the bank.
He is coming again. You know the promises of God are a little bit like gift cards. Gift cards are very big right now. People love to give those. And I read recently that there is over $200 billion every year spent on gift cards.
Can you imagine that? And how many of us have unused gift cards? How many of you have gift cards you have not used?
I have done some really funky gift cards. Like I got one for a place called Liverworld. What a Liverworld. I made that up. There is no Liverworld.
Someone might get excited. Liver? Do they have onions too? I did get a gift card though for a place called Dog Strollers Are Us. I thought I am not going there because I am against people pushing dogs in strollers. You know this by now. No. I really did get a gift card for a place called Kale, Cats, and Priuses. No. No I didn't. First of all Kale is worthless.
Why? We used to call it garnish. Now it is our salad. Cats. That is all another subject. Priuses. Always going too slow in the fast lane. You know it is true. I am not stereotyping.
It is true. How many of you drive a Prius? Go faster. Just the speed limit.
All I ask is the speed limit. That is it. No. We need to talk.
Come up here. No. Not really.
I am sure you get very good mileage. So congratulations on that. Alright. So the angel comes to Mary. By the way when an angel showed up it tended to freak people out. I mean if an angel appeared here we would go whoa. It is an angel of the Lord. That is why angels often began their remarks with these words. Do not be afraid. Don't freak out.
You are not going to die. But when Gabriel showed up that was the situation. I mean there are rankings of angels in the Bible. There is only one archangel specifically identified. That would be Michael. In fact we are told in 1 Thessalonians 4 with the voice of the archangel the dead in Christ shall rise first and we will be caught up to meet the Lord and so forth.
But Gabriel is right up there. Now I don't know if he is an archangel but he is a high ranking angel. Gabriel appears in the Old Testament delivering words to the prophet Daniel. Here he is in the New Testament giving this message to Mary. This isn't just another message. This is a big message. This is the announcement of the Messiah.
So they dispatched the big gun. Gabriel himself shows up and tells Mary that she is going to be the mother of Messiah. And she is troubled according to verse 29. The word troubled can be translated disturbed confused and complete failure to function. Have you ever felt that way?
Something you heard or saw just stunned you. That is Mary. Like what? I wonder what she was doing when he showed up. Maybe doing some chores.
Maybe sweeping the floor. All of a sudden there stands before her Gabriel in all of his glory telling her you are going to be this woman. You are going to be literally a fulfillment of a promise in the Bible. And I love Mary's response. She said let it be according to your word.
She obeyed. And then in verse 46 she says, my soul magnifies the Lord. How I rejoice in God my Savior.
He took notice of this lowly servant girl. And now generation after generation will call me blessed. For he the mighty one is holy and he has done great things for me. I want you to notice she says I rejoice in God my Savior. Was Mary sinless? No she was not. Was she born of immaculate conception which means born without sin? No she was not. She was a sinner like everybody else. And that is why she said I rejoice in God my Savior. But she was a godly girl and was given this great privilege. And I love this statement when she simply says to Gabriel just a quick technical question.
How is this going to happen? I am a virgin. He says yes I understand. The power of the most high will come upon you and that what will be born in you will be the Son of God. And then I love the statement for with God nothing will be impossible.
My talking to somebody now that is facing insurmountable odds. You have a huge problem in front of you. You don't see any way that you can resolve this problem you have. And I want to simply remind you of these words from Scripture with God nothing should be impossible. Right.
Remember that. Maybe you have a marriage that is falling apart. It's hanging by it's hanging by a thread and the threat is on fire. You don't see any way that you're going to survive. You say I have given up.
Don't give up. God can save your marriage. God can preserve your marriage.
For with God nothing shall be impossible. Maybe you have a prodigal son or daughter or husband or wife. They have turned away from God. And they have just gotten worse with the passing of time. And there is no way that you could see they would ever return to the Lord. Keep praying for them. Don't give up on them.
Because with God nothing should be impossible. Maybe you have been given bad news from a doctor. They have run tests and they have said, I am sorry. There is no course of treatment. There is no hope for you.
Get your affairs in order. You will not live much longer. That may be true.
We don't know. But God can intervene and God can even heal you. For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Remember that. Great encouragement today from Pastor Greg Laurie from our study called For With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible. And next time here on A New Beginning Pastor Greg will offer more insights from this message. Well we're in studio today not only with Pastor Greg but Pastor Greg's wife Kathy and also author Sally Lloyd-Jones.
We're making available a brand new book called Known Psalm 139. Sally you do such a wonderful job of communicating with kids and I know that's a challenge. How do you find the balance between teaching the kids a lesson but not being heavy handed if you know what I mean? You do that so well.
How do you weave that balance? Well I think I never want to actually teach them a lesson. I think there's a place for teaching lessons but my job is to tell a story the best way I can and the power of the story is the story. It's not some kind of moral lesson you draw out of the story. It's not you know how often we're tempted and I have done this myself. You're tempted to read a story and then go and the meaning of that story and the lesson in that story is and you fill in the blank but what you've done by filling in the blank is you've killed the story and what I love to do is I think of a story as a seed to tell the story the best way I can to be true to what God's saying. If it's a Bible story to really do my job which is to really understand the theology make sure I'm telling the story correctly and really tell it from a place of my heart so it will reach their heart and then I leave it with God and I think if you say anything I think it's about asking a wonder I wonder question as opposed to you being the adult telling the child what to think because what if you what you got from the story isn't what God wants to say to the child what if you come in with your perspective and you make it a lesson then the child is is in danger of just switching off because it's become school so I think the lovely thing about a story time is keep it a story time there's plenty of time for school and lessons children have that all the time but how often do they get to sit with a parent or a grown-up and together wonder at this incredible God who loves both of us you know like say the story of the feeding of the five thousand the lesson would be you read the story of the five thousand and at the end you go now children how can we be generous and share our lunch with other people and suddenly the stories become a horrible awful lesson what if you instead you said which is a very extreme thing but I you know we're all tempted to do that because we think we don't trust the story we think we have to add to it but what instead if you read the story and then you went together I wonder the little boy gave Jesus everything he had I wonder what would happen if I gave Jesus everything I had and you as an adult wonder alongside the child so you open it up and you want open-ended questions you want the child to join in that wonder wondering at God's great love so that's my goal is not to teach a lesson if a lesson comes out of it that's between God and the child I think that is brilliant I think that is so good what I noticed about this book is going alongside with the the concept of Psalm 139 that God is omniscient he knows everything and the first few pages talk about he knows this about me he knows that about me knows when I run outside to play he knows my name he knows he knows he knows he knows everything about me and then the next page says and he loves me completely and I thought that was so powerful because to a child or even to an adult a God who knows everything everything about you um can be a little intimidating and yet you follow that with and he loves me completely and there's the gospel right there you know we tend to think of he knows everything as a threat and really someone 39 shows it as a comfort because if he knows everything about me because he made me and even my terrible ashamed whatever I've done that's so dreadful he still loves me and he still extends his hand to me yes it's the gospel and that's what you want is for children to run to that God not run away from him that's right so I'm in studio with my wife Kathy with Sally Lloyd-Jones we're talking about Sally's new book known and it's a paraphrase of part of Psalm 139 it's a beautiful book illustrated by Jago a fantastic artist an artist I have to say his illustrations just capture something so special it's so hard to describe it to you uh on the radio so that's why we need you to order a copy so you can see it for yourself and read it to your little ones and we'll offer you this book known by Sally Lloyd-Jones for your gift of any size this month to help us continue on teaching the word of God and proclaiming the gospel yeah that's right and it's such an important time to reach out with the gospel we're reaching out further than we ever have before in some surprising ways and your partnership is so pivotal and important right now and as you partner with us by making a year-end donation please do ask for Sally's brand new book called known Psalm 139 we'll send it to say thanks for your investment you can call us at 1-800-821-3300 call anytime 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org hey everybody what are you doing this weekend I'd like to hang out with you at Harvest at Home when is Harvest at Home it is a time of worship and bible study exclusively designed for people that are viewing in from all over the place so you can be a part of our extended congregation at Harvest at Home join us this weekend saturday and sunday for harvest and home at harvest.org well next time more insight from pastor greg's encouraging message for with god nothing shall be impossible join us here on a new beginning with pastor and bible teacher greg lorry thanks for listening to a new beginning with greg lorry a podcast made possible by harvest partners helping people everywhere know god sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a harvest partner at harvest.org
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-18 01:37:30 / 2022-12-18 01:48:54 / 11