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. So some people turn to Google or Siri for answers to life's deepest questions. And they read their astrology column. And meanwhile here's the creator of the universe who's given us his word and he says, I want to be your counselor. If you follow many of the discussion threads on social media, they often follow a pattern. A suggestion, a counter suggestion, disagreement, rude disagreement, personal attack, intense caustic tirade. And we close the page uttering something about humanity being doomed.
It's probably a good idea to get our input from a higher source. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points to our wonderful counselor. Grab your Bibles and turn to Isaiah 9-6. Isaiah 9-6 and the title of my message is, What's in a Name? I told you the story before about a guy who ended up with the unfortunate last name of Odd.
Imagine the harassment he had to face, the mockery, the jokes at his expense, going all the way back to school. Oh, your last name is Odd. That's Odd.
You're Odd. And he just drove him crazy. So finally he decided when he died he did not want his name on his tombstone. He gave specific instructions that when the tombstone was erected it should remain blank. And so what happened is he did die and they followed his directions and people would walk through the cemetery and they'd read the various names on the tombstones.
And they would come to a blank tombstone and more than one person said, there's no name on this tombstone. That's Odd. Okay, so names make a difference. I don't know what kind of name you ended up with. Of course having the last name of Laurie meant that I was mocked through school. Laurie's a girl's name.
Right? So that was my little thing. Some have had far more unfortunate names. I read an article about bad names parents gave to their children. And I'm not making any of this up. One couple named their son Arson.
Arson. Is that a good name for a kid? Another couple named their child Bacardi.
That's a great plan there. Did they have other children? Tequila? I mean seriously Bacardi. Another couple named their little boy Banana.
I'm sure he was never mocked at all. Two other kids. One kid was named Brick. Another was named Burger.
Really? Brick and Burger. One kid was named Chaos. I almost feel like I'm setting that kid up for problems in life. I'm not making this one up. Parents named their child Gassy. Gassy. Would you want to hang around with someone named that? Hey I'm Gassy. How's it going? Want to hang out? No. Why?
You figure it out. Gassy. Another kid was named Hashtag. What kind of a name is that? Another was named Havok. Maybe you could get these kids together. Havok meet Chaos.
Can Gassy join you? I don't know. And then another child was named Ikea. That's just not right. Ikea. Another child.
These are real names given by parents was named Kale. I'm just against that on so many levels I just can't say. Parents named their kid Netflix. Netflix. Not Amazon Prime. I don't know.
Netflix. Another child was named Riot. Get these kids together.
Riot meet Chaos and Havok and maybe Arson can join you as well. Another couple named their child Keesh. No.
That's wrong. And then finally a couple named their child Velveeta. Velveeta. Velveeta meet Burger, Kale, and Gassy.
Why don't you guys go do something together? Names matter. I read actually that a study has been done and they found that of the 15,000 juvenile delinquents they researched that those with odd or embarrassing names were in trouble four times as much as the others.
So don't name your child Kale, Velveeta, Gassy or Burger or Chaos or anything like that. Well I bring that up because now we're talking about the name that is above all names. Remember the angel Gabriel announced to Mary and ultimately an angel announced to Joseph they were going to have a son and they would name him Jesus because he would save his people from their sins. Jesus is the name that literally divides time.
It's the most powerful name of all. And the Bible tells us at the name of Jesus Christ every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord to the glory of God the Father. Now I want to reflect on Isaiah 9-6. This is a passage that is often quoted in the Christmas season and for good reason.
Because in the two verses that are before us, which by the way were written 700 years before Christ was born, we get so much insight into the name, purpose, and the work of Jesus Christ. Let's read it together Isaiah 9-6 for unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given and the government will be upon his shoulder and his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
And here in Isaiah 9-6 we get insights into his character and into the work that he wants to do in your life starting with this opening statement. Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given and his name shall be called Wonderful. Wonderful. And that takes care of the dullness of life.
The word wonderful obviously comes from the root word wonder. It was author Bertrand Russell who once said quote at least half of the sins of mankind were caused by the fear of boredom end quote. And we have never been more advanced technologically have we? We have our phones and we have our tablets. We have our video game systems. We talk and we text and we zoom and we tick and we talk endlessly. And now we have the so called metaverse right? Facebook has come up with the metaverse where we can communicate through avatars. It's just crazy all of this stuff. And you see young people today that are being born into this technology. You have baby strollers now with iPad holders. I'm not making this stuff up.
And so these kids enter into this virtual world and into all this technology and you can have a kid sitting on a couch you know playing a video game, watching YouTube, texting a friend and then say I'm bored. Okay but here's what the Bible says. God is wonderful. He's actually awesome.
That would be a better translation. His name shall be called awesome. Now we throw down the awesome word a lot. We'll say oh that was an awesome movie or oh that was an awesome meal or that was an awesome taco. Now I don't think that taco was awe inspiring but that's a word we use. But God is awe inspiring.
His name is wonderful. Again that takes care of the dullness of life. A Christian should never be bored.
As we contemplate God's glory and his work in our life we should be filled with awe and wonder and astonishment. But his name shall be called counselor. That takes care of the decisions of life. You know you have to make so many decisions everyday. So many things to decide. What do I do about this?
What do I do about that? And I'm just talking about sitting in line at Taco Bell. Like there's so many options on the menu.
And you know they have all these things I don't even know what they are. These gordita crunch and so I look at all of them and people are lining up behind me and I default to my order. I'll have a burrito and a taco you know. So that's why I like In-N-Out Burger. It's really simple. You know burgers and fries and malts. You can do some cool stuff with them.
But you know animal style or add this or add that. But ultimately it's a pretty simple choice. But realistically in life there are big decisions we all need to make. And we need help.
We can't figure this out on our own. And God is reminding us here that he wants to give his personal counsel and direction to us. You know some people turn to Google or Siri for answers to life's deepest questions. Or they go down and talk to the bartender at the local watering hole. Or you know you go to the psychic. Some people actually believe the psychics can help them.
Or they read their astrology column. And meanwhile here's the creator of the universe who's given us his word and he says I want to be your counselor. I want to tell you what to do. The Bible says if any man lack wisdom let him ask of God and he'll give it to you generously. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of today's message in just a moment. But you know Pastor Greg many people are looking for hope these days. Especially young people. They want to be part of something bigger. And I know we have some big plans to reach them in the coming new year. Don't we?
We do Dave. And let me say here's where you won't find hope. You won't find hope in the culture. You won't find hope in technology. You won't find hope even in many ways in politics.
All of these things have their place. But hope? That comes from God.
I like this acronym of hope that I heard H-O-P-E. Holding on with patient expectation. The Bible brims with hope. And that is our message that we want to share with this young generation and all generations. That there is hope for them in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And we want to offer this hope to as many people as possible in this coming year through our outreach ministries which of course include A New Beginning. I'm asking you to join us at Harvest and become a partner. A partner is just a friend that makes a regular commitment to us each and every month.
They stand by us and that enables us to respond to the opportunities that are coming our way. I think we would all agree we live in a many ways a hopeless world. But through Christ we have hope. Life without God is a hopeless end. Life with Him is endless hope. Join us and become a part of our team and let's reach the world with a much needed message of hope.
Yeah, that's right. And you know it's the most strategic time of the year and maybe the most strategic time in our history with the plans we have for ministry in the new year. Your investment can go further than ever. So please get in touch today to become what we call a Harvest partner. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. That's 24-7 phone number 1-800-821-3300.
Or go online to harvest.org. We're discovering the wonderful counsel God is eager to make available to us. Pastor Greg's message today, What's in a Name? His name is Wonderful.
His name is Counselor. His name is Mighty God. Mighty God.
That takes care of the demands of life. It's important for us to remember that Jesus Christ was not just a good man. He was the God-man. The Creator became a creation. Here's the amazing thing. Jesus was fully God and fully man.
That's kind of hard for us to wrap our minds around, right? Okay, I accept that he was God, but he was also a man. He was not a sinful man. He was made like us, but he was different. It was total identification without a loss of identity. He became one of us without ceasing to be himself. He became human without ceasing to be God.
And this is hard for us to understand, but here's an illustration. One time Jesus was crossing the Sea of Galilee and a storm came. And he was asleep in the boat through the storm.
What could be more human than being asleep in a boat? And I'm amazed he could do that when a storm was happening, but I think he was completely exhausted. Wherever Jesus went, people were pulling on him, pushing him, asking things from him. It just depleted him because he walked among us as a man. He faced exhaustion. He faced loneliness. He faced sadness.
All the things that you faced, he faced that. So what could be more human than being asleep? But then they wake Jesus up and say, come and help us stop this storm. And he looks at the storm and says, peace be still.
And the storm suddenly stops. What could be more divine than that? He could rebuke a storm as God, but face weariness as a human. And the fact that Christ became fully human reminds us that he understands what you're going through. Being fully God reminds you he has the power you need to live for him, but he knows what it's like to face the difficulties that we face.
And he is there for us. But then he is the mighty God. And God has given you all the power you need to live the Christian life. You know, sometimes people say it's really hard to be a Christian.
I would disagree. I would say it's impossible to be a Christian. Impossible without the empowering and help of the Holy Spirit. We need that power in our life. You can't live the Christian life with willpower. You live it with God's power. Christ working in you. Jesus said, apart from me you can do nothing. But then Paul says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. So in my power, in my strength, I can overcome anything. With God's power and God's strength, I can do all things through Christ.
Right? So maybe I'm talking to somebody today who's dealing with this serious addiction. And you cannot break free from this addiction. And I'm telling you in your own strength you can't. But in God's strength you can. And you must. And if you want to, you will. Now some of us will get some electronic gadgets for Christmas. And it won't work.
And we'll be bewildered. And we can't find any of our geek friends to help us. So it's a good day right now to be a geek, by the way. If you're a geek, we appreciate you.
But in fact, we need you desperately. So you call the little helpline. You know, your TV isn't working or your game system isn't working or whatever it is you bought.
And here's the first question they're going to ask you at tech support. Is it turned on? Because many times it's not turned on. And the second question they're going to ask you is, is it plugged in? And it's amazing how many times it is not plugged in and it is not turned on.
And in the same way you can apply that to the Christian life. Are you plugged in? Are you plugged in to God's power?
Are you open to the working of His Spirit? His name will be called Wonderful. That takes care of the dullness of life.
Counselor. That takes care of the decisions of life. And He is the mighty God. And now He is the everlasting Father.
That takes care of the future of life. Everlasting Father. Because Jesus was born in the manger and then died on the cross and rose again from the dead, we have hope. We have hope for this life and hope for the afterlife.
We know that we will live forever in the presence of God. And I think this phrase Everlasting Father resonates with those who may not have had an earthly father. So many families are broken today. So many fathers have tragically walked out on their wife and their children and have left them. And so these kids grow up without a dad.
I was one of those kids, of course. I never had a father growing up. And so when I heard that there was an Everlasting Father who loved me and had a plan for my life, that really resonated with me. And He has always been there for me and He'll always be there for you.
He's your Everlasting Father. And lastly, He's the Prince of Peace. That takes care of the disturbances of life.
He's the Prince of Peace. And we all have disturbances in life. Maybe I'm talking to someone right now that's going through great turmoil with the family. You know, we watch the commercials and television and families getting together. And then there's the real world. Then there's your family, right? And the people that you have to deal with, especially this time of the year. Or maybe there's just problems you're facing at work.
Or maybe you have health problems now. And other issues that you're facing that cause you to be disturbed, they wake you up in the middle of the night. But He's the Prince of Peace. And then there's the problems in our world. And the turmoil on our streets and the crime and the attacks and the murder and all the rest of it.
Then there's the global conflict. But He is the Prince of Peace. And He will personally give to you the peace that passes all human understanding. Now this passage we're looking at addresses our future. And the government will be upon His shoulders. The government will be upon His shoulders.
You see there's a bit of space in human history between the statement, unto us a son is given and a child is born. And the government being upon His shoulders. We all would like a better government. Our government is in a lot of trouble right now.
Right? So what is the ultimate solution? It's not going to be when Democrats rule. It's not going to be when Republicans rule. It's going to be when Christ rules and returns to this earth and establishes His kingdom. So we've been waiting for 2,000 years for the fulfillment of the latter part of this promise of Isaiah. Christ will return. And I believe Christ could come back at any moment.
I think all around us now we are seeing signs of the times. Things that remind us that His coming is near. So when He comes the government will be upon His shoulders.
He will reign righteously as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But before taking the government upon His shoulders He would first have to take a cross upon His shoulder. And die on that cross. Before He will wear the crown of glory Christ had to first wear the crown of thorns. Let me say something that doesn't sound Christmasy.
But actually it's very Christmasy. Christ came to this earth with the express purpose of dying on the cross. The incarnation was for the atonement. The birth of Jesus was so there would be the death of Jesus and of course His resurrection. Before there was a planet called earth much less a garden called Eden or a city called Bethlehem. A decision was made in heaven. And that decision was that Christ would come and be born in that manger and would die on a Roman cross 33 years after that. The Bible says He was slain from the foundation of the world.
What does that mean? That means that God knew what we would do. God knew we would sin. God knew our first parents would eat of the forbidden fruit.
And by the way if you had been in the garden you would have done it too. And so He knew that sin would spread to all the planet and He knew the only solution was sending His Son. And so the question is Jesus did that.
How have we responded? You see it's a gift that He offers. The gift of eternal life. So what's in a name?
It all depends whose name it is. If it's the name of Jesus Christ everything is in that name. And He offers us all this incredible gift of eternal life.
And I'd like to close this message with just extending that gift. So if you've never asked Jesus to come into your life. If you're not sure right now that you go to heaven when you die. You think about death a lot.
You're afraid to die. You wonder what happens in the afterlife. Remember He can be your everlasting Father. But you must open your heart to Him and ask Him to come and live inside of you. I want you to pray this prayer with me wherever you are. Just pray this prayer. You could even pray it out loud.
Just pray Lord Jesus. I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the Savior. Who was born in Bethlehem. Died on the cross.
And rose again from the dead. I turn from my sin now Lord. And I put my faith in you. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus name I ask it.
Amen. Such an important prayer from Pastor Greg Laurie today here on A New Beginning. A prayer with those making a decision for the Lord today.
And if you've just prayed that prayer and it meant those words sincerely. First of all we want to welcome you into the family of God. And then we want to help you begin to live each day with the Lord. We'd like to send you our New Believers Growth Packet.
To help you build a solid foundation for your faith. We'll send it free of charge. Just give us a phone call at 1-800-821-3300. Call anytime. That's 1-800-821-3300.
Or go online to Harvest.org. And once again you'll be asking for the New Believers Growth Packet. Hey everybody Greg here.
With a very special guest in studio. Sally Lloyd-Jones. The prolific author of so many amazing books for children.
And she has done a series of four books for the really little ones. One is called Found. One is called Loved.
One is called Near. Found is based on Psalm 23. Loved is based on the Lord's Prayer. Near is based on the first part of Psalm 139. And Known is based on the last part of Psalm 139.
So Sally. Thank you for being with us. And I'm wondering if you would do us all a favor. And just read this book to us now.
And your beautiful British accent. In a way that only you can read. Because you wrote it. And no one can do it like you.
So please share the contents of this book. Known with us now. Known.
Psalm 139. God is a good daddy. And I'm his little child. He knows when I wake up. And when I put my shoes on.
And when I run outside to play. He knows my name. And the color of my eyes.
And the dreams inside my heart. He knows everything about me. And he loves me completely. He's interested in what I think.
And what I have to say. When I talk to him. He listens to me. He thinks about me all the time.
More times than I could even count. He takes care of me every day of my life. No wonder God knows me so well. He made me. How wonderful. Beautiful. Now folks if you know Psalm 139. King James it says you know my down sitting.
My uprising. You know my thoughts before I even think them. She's taken these words. And made them understandable to a child.
And maybe to a few adults listening as well. Good reminders. It's a very thick book. Perfect for a little one to hold in their little hands.
And it'll survive if they bite it or drool on it or throw it. It'll be something you'll return to again and again. And you'll keep in your library. For other little children to read as well. We're offering this beautiful book. Written by Sally Lloyd-Jones.
Illustrated by Jago. For your gift of any size this month to a new beginning. So we can continue to teach the word of God. And proclaim the gospel.
Yeah that's right. And we'd like to send a copy to you right away. It's our thank you gift for those who invest in the work of the gospel right now. It's such a pivotal time for this ministry. As we reach out to people in surprising innovative new ways. Countless lives will be impacted through the generosity of those who partner with us.
So thanks for considering the part you can play right now. And when you give be sure to ask for Known, Psalm 139 by Sally Lloyd-Jones. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here around the clock to take your call.
That's 1-800-821-3300. Or go online to Harvest.org. You know there's nothing like hearing the word of God and worshiping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at Harvest.org. You can join Christians literally from around the world as we worship. And we study the word of God together.
So join us for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well next time Pastor Greg brings one of the most comforting messages for the holiday season. No matter what's going on in your life, remember that Jesus is with you. You are not alone. Join us here on A New Beginning with Pastor and Bible Teacher, Greg Laurie.
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