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 greg.harvest.org. Again, it's greg.harvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. Coming up today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie has help and hope for those facing challenges that are threatening their holiday. Are you walking through a river of difficulty this Christmas? Are you going through the fire of oppression?
Listen to this. God is with you, controlling the events of your life and fighting your battles. This is the message of Jesus to our lonely world right now.
I am with you. 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 when life begins. Tough trials can bring us to our knees, but no doubt the most disheartening time to face those challenges is here at Christmas time. It's a time to deck the halls, not to be sidelined and feel all alone.
Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie wants you to know you're not alone. We'll see that within the biblical story of the birth of Christ is found a promise of His presence in our lives. It's a promise we can cling to today, through the weekend, and into the coming year. This is the day, the day when life begins.
Well, Merry Christmas to everybody. Let's pray together. Father, we're so thankful to be able to celebrate and remember that significant birth that changed the world.
We divide time by it. The moment that you sent your son to live among us. God was skin on, walking among us, living our lives, ultimately dying our deaths, rising again, and now desiring a relationship with us. So speak to us as we look at what your Word says about the birth of Jesus. And we ask all of this in Jesus' name. Amen. The title of my message is, You Are Not Alone.
Here's something I would like you to think about. Jesus Christ has been with you in your past. He is with you in your present. And He will be with you in the future. Because Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
So know this, you're not alone because God is with you. That's the real message of Christmas. And so I want to give you three main points in this message. Number one, Jesus has always been there. He's always been there. The real Christmas story goes way, way back. Before Mary and Joseph. Before the innkeeper. Before Herod the Great.
Or Caesar Augustus. Before the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. Before the wise men. In fact, the first mention of Christmas is B.C. You're thinking, wait, B.C., that's before Christ, right?
Yes, it is. Because Christ has always been there. Yes, He was born and He entered our world. But He is pre-existent. He has always existed.
He is eternal. And so the real Christmas story starts with a tree. A Christmas tree, if you will, but not quite the tree you might be thinking of.
It wasn't decorated with lights and bulbs. And by the way, I don't know about you, but we have a tree that's fake. How many of you have fake Christmas trees? Raise your hand. I am.
I'm on your team. How many of you go out and get a real Christmas tree? How many of you don't have a Christmas tree? Raise your hand. Really?
Just get over yourself and lighten up, okay? I don't care if you have one or not. Now my Christmas tree is not only fake. It has lights in it already. And it has wheels on it. Because I got so tired of cleaning up after real life Christmas trees.
I went and I searched and I found this tree that folds over. And you wheel it away. And then when Christmas comes you wheel it back. And you open it up.
You plug it in. Voila. And it looks pretty real too.
I know you're going to be googling that later, aren't you? It's pretty cool. But the first Christmas tree, if you will, or the tree of our story, is not that tree. It's a tree in a garden. A very mysterious tree.
It's called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So here's Adam and Eve living in actual paradise. Radiant beauty at every turn.
Exotic wildlife. Perfect temperature. Best of all, no sin or the guilt that accompanies it. And God told Adam and Eve to stay away from this tree.
He's like, enjoy everything I've created. Stay away from this tree. Because on it hung the forbidden fruit that would bring sin into the world.
Well you know the rest of the story. Eve ate of the tree. She gave to Adam and he ate of it as well. Have you ever eaten something and immediately regretted it? I don't know about you but I hate fat on meat.
It just, it grosses me out. Now my wife loves fat. Fat gives it flavor.
I don't want any fat. If there's a little bit of fat I go in and cut off the fat. And if I take a bite of meat and there's fat on it I could you know gag a little bit. Can you think of something you took a bite of and you immediately wish you could spit it out? Maybe you were over at someone's house for dinner and you took the first bite and you like wanted to throw up but you can't do that.
And so you're trying to find a diplomatic way to get that thing out of your mouth or even worse just swallow it. Take fruitcakes for instance. I just have a one-word response to the fruitcake.
Why? I watched a show last night where this expert chef created a fruitcake from scratch. And I bet even that one didn't taste good.
Right? But then there are those candies. You know sometimes they get seized candy for Christmas.
I have a box actually in my office and I don't know about you. I like the nuts and shoes only. Just nuts and shoes. Those creamy things. You never know what you're going to get in those. Right? You take a bite.
What on earth is this? Gross. But this was a serious bite. This was a bite that they regretted immediately. Satan lied to them and said go ahead and eat for in the day you eat thereof your eyes will be open and you'll be as gods. But he was partially right.
Sometimes in his lies he adds a little bit of truth to make it more appealing. Their eyes were open but not to them being god. Their eyes were open to sin and they were closed to god and they lost that sweet fellowship with the lord. So the next day they hear the lord god walking in the garden calling out Adam where are you? Did god know where they were? Of course he did.
He was waiting for them to come clean. So he comes to Adam and says did you eat of the food I told you not to eat of? And now the first recorded excuse in human history Adam points to the woman and says it's a woman you gave me.
Wow. Adam's basically saying look I was happy hanging out with all these weird creatures you made. Enjoying your creation. I take a nap.
I wake up. A rib is missing and she's here. And then the woman she passed the buck to and said well the serpent the snake deceived me. And now we have the first Christmas verse. It's not Isaiah 9 6 unto us a child is born you call his name wonderful council of the mighty god the everlasting father the prince of peace. Nor is it Micah 5 2 you Bethlehem though you be little among the thousands of Judah yet out of you shall come forth one whose origins have been from everlasting. The first Christmas verse is Genesis 3 15 when God says to Satan there is coming one who will bruise your head and you will bruise his heel.
So game on. First Christmas verse Messiah was coming and Satan knew it. But here's my point. Jesus has always been there. He was with the father at creation. John 1 1 says in the beginning was the word. The word was with God. The word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him nothing was made that was made and the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory.
That's what Christmas is all about. He left the glory of heaven and was born as a baby in a manger. That stable or cave Christ was born in was damp and cold.
The stench of animals filled the room. It was the least desirable place for a baby to be born but that was a sacrifice he made for us. Second Corinthians 8 9 says though he was rich yet for your sakes he became poor that through his poverty you might be rich. But here in this holiday season this is a sad time for a lot of people. Christmas is a time when people are filled with anxiety and loneliness and great pain for many reasons. It may be because they come from a broken home. It may be because they lost a loved one. It may be because they have no family to speak of.
They feel isolated. But here's the real message of Christmas. Immanuel Immanuel God is with you. Christmas is about undoing loneliness. So maybe I'm talking to someone that's feeling especially lonely right now and I want you to know God knows what you're going through. Jesus is the loneliest man who ever lived. Have you been forgotten and forsaken by friends?
So was he. He lived a life of loneliness. Isaiah 53 says he was despised and rejected of men a man of sorrows. He's borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. When there was no room for him in the end for Mary and Joseph to deliver that baby that was indicative of the treatment that Christ received throughout his earthly ministry. There was no room for him.
Ironically the one who said in my father's house our many rooms couldn't find a room to even enter our world. So he knows what it's like to be lonely but the loneliest moment of the life of Jesus is when he hung on the cross and bore the sin of the world. There he was suspended between heaven and earth taking all of the horrible things that we've done upon himself and even God his father and his holy righteousness could not look in his son and that was the worst moment and the loneliest moment that Jesus faced. So he is with you. He was forsaken that you might be forgiven and he wants this relationship with you.
Once he's come into your life he'll never leave you. Jesus said I'll never leave you or forsake you. You're not alone no matter what you're facing you're not alone. Isaiah 43 2 says when you go through deep waters in great trouble I will be with you says the Lord. When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression you will not be burned up and the flames will not consume you. Are you walking through a river of difficulty this Christmas?
Are you going through the fire of oppression? Listen to this God is with you controlling the events of your life and fighting your battles. This is the message of Jesus to our lonely world right now.
I am with you wherever you are I am with you and I'll never leave you. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of today's message in just a moment. You know Pastor Greg Harvest Ministries has used many different ways to get the gospel to people.
True. We've done crusade outreaches of course we're here on the radio we're on television and of course feature-length movies. Yeah. But our biggest asset isn't technology it's people isn't it?
Yes. Friends who believe in the mission of Harvest to know God and make him known. Yeah that's really true Dave you know we try to use every platform that we can but it's always with a purpose and that is to proclaim the message of the gospel. The gospel according to the apostle Paul is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes and we want to proclaim that gospel message to as many people as we can but we need our friends to stand with us. If we all pray together if we all work together if we invest our resources we can do more together. So I'm asking you who listen to this radio broadcast A New Beginning to join us as a friend and help us financially so we can reach more people with the only message that can change people for time and eternity the message of the gospel.
Yeah that's right and the need for that hope is so apparent today. Why not partner with us to make a real difference. Can we invite you to become what we call a Harvest partner? Give us a call today and we'll pass along all the details. Our number is 1-800-821-3300.
Call anytime 24 hours a day that's 1-800-821-3300 or just go online to harvest.org. We're discovering some strong reassurance from scripture today that Jesus is always with us. Pastor Greg continues his message now based in Luke chapter 2. So Jesus was with you in your past he's with you in your present and he's going to be with you in your future. My final point Jesus is coming again he's coming again we don't have to be afraid of the future all around us are signs of the times that could do a entirely separate message on that topic alone.
Things that are alarming concerning alerting us to the fact that Jesus could come. Contrast the first coming of Jesus to his second coming. In his first coming when he was born in the manger of Bethlehem he was wrapped in swaddling cloths. In his second coming he'll be clothed royally in a robe dipped in blood. In his first coming he was surrounded by animals he was surrounded by animals and shepherds. In his second coming he'll be accompanied by saints and angels.
In his first coming the door of the inn was closed to him. In his second coming the door of heaven will be open to him. In his first coming he was the lamb of God coming to die for the sin of the world. In his second coming he'll be the ferocious lion of the tribe of Judah bringing judgment. This is the day when Christ will be vindicated before everyone and the Bible says every eye will see and every tongue will confess that he is the Lord to the glory of God the father. He will come again there are many verses that prophesied his birth they gave us specifics where we would be born how we would be born but there are many verses that speak of his return again so God has been faithful in the past he's fulfilled his promises he'll be faithful in the future as well. Hebrews 9 28 Christ has been offered once to bear the sins of many he'll appear a second time without sin for those who are eagerly waiting for him. He was here he is here and he is going to return here again.
So let me close my message with this question. Does Christ live in your heart right now? Have you come here to church or are you watching with a sense of loneliness and deep pain? God wants to enter into your pain and enter into your world and enter into your heart. Listen to this Jesus left his home in heaven so you could have a home in heaven and he wants you to join him in this relationship with him.
Remember he was searching for Adam and Eve in the garden. Where are you? Where are you? See the answer to that question is important because God can't tell you where you need to go until you'll admit where you are. Let's say that you wanted to uh come to church at Harvest Riverside. I want to come to church uh for your service tonight. What's my next question?
Well where are you? Why am I asking you that? Because I want to get into your personal business. No because I want to give you directions.
Here's what you do. Oh you're in Orange County drive up the 55 and ultimately you're going to come up the 91 and then you come to the light the off-ramp Adams you'll wait there for one hour for the light to change and then you turn left you pull into the parking lot of Harvest okay. So I have to find out where you are so I can tell you how to get here right. God asked Adam where are you? Not like where are you geographically because God could have used an app find my Adam very easily you know. I don't think that was a problem. He wanted Adam to admit I'm here hiding because I'm a complete idiot and I ate of the forbidden fruit and I own it and I take responsibility for it and I'm sorry for my sin.
So where are you? And we have to admit we're sinners. We've broken God's commandments but we also acknowledge that Jesus entered our world and was born in that manger and died on the cross for our sins and now it's up to us to make room for him.
We love to vilify the innkeeper. He turned Mary and Joseph away. How could he have done that? Didn't they have halos over there yet? I mean he opens up the door here's this couple little halos and they're waiting and they're whoa look at that come on in.
You'll light the place up even. No they look like any other poor family. I don't even know if he was a man. We always classify him as a guy could have been a woman. I don't know what caused him or her to turn them away. Obviously a very pregnant woman ready to give birth at any moment but we can say oh he was such a bad person or she was such a bad person but don't we do the same when we don't have room for God in our life? Sometimes unfortunately it takes a crisis to wake us up. It takes one of those close brushes with death or a call from our doctor or some other event that happens that wakes us up to the reality of the fact that we need God.
Has that happened to someone I'm talking to recently? Something to remind you that there's more to this life than being like the dog that chases its tail and finding the meaning and purpose of life. It's all here for you right now. Emmanuel God has come. Jesus is here with us right now ready to enter into your heart. If you've never asked him to come in why don't you do that right here right now. This will be the greatest gift you will receive this year.
Enough from something under a tree or in a card. It'll be Christ himself coming to live inside of you. He says behold I stand at the door and I knock and if you'll hear my voice and open the door I will come in. We're going to close down prayer and if you would like to ask Jesus to come into your life respond to this opportunity right here right now.
Let's pray. Father I thank you for your love for us in sending Jesus to our world. To enter into all that we have to face each and every day. Lord Jesus we thank you for coming. You came and you laid your life down for us on that cross and rose again from the dead and now I pray that your Holy Spirit will convict any person who does not know you of their sin and convince them of their need for Jesus Christ. Speak to them now we would ask in Jesus name. Now while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed and we're praying maybe there's somebody here that is not sure if Christ is living inside of them. Someone here that would like their sin forgiven.
Someone here that would like to know with certainty that they'll go to heaven when they die. Listen if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life if you want him to forgive you of your sin if you want to go to heaven when you die if you want to find the meaning and purpose of life I want you to pray this prayer after me. You can pray it out loud if you like but just pray this prayer pray these words. Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the Savior who died on that cross for my sin and rose again from the dead now come into my life I receive you and I thank you for hearing this prayer and I ask this in Jesus name amen. That's an important prayer by Pastor Greg Laurie and if you've just prayed along with him today here on A New Beginning and have meant those words sincerely well we want to welcome you into the family of God. Now let us help you grow in your faith we'd like to send you something called our New Believers Growth Packet it's free of charge if you prayed for the first time today with Pastor Greg just ask for the New Believers Growth Packet when you call 1-800-821-3300 that's a 24 7 phone number 1-800-821-3300 or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside, California 92514 or go online to harvest.org. Well we're so happy to be making available a brand new book by Sally Lloyd-Jones it's the children's book called Known Psalm 139 and Sally is here talking with Pastor Greg and his wife Kathy here's just an excerpt of the book read by Sally. 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. I just love the way that you speak Sally like when you go to a restaurant and you order something do you say things like I'll have a sandwich a sandwich is good a sandwich but with your British accent I only speak in in rhyme and I use my accent because it makes me sound like I know what I'm talking about which is helpful yes so if you went and you ordered a sandwich how would you say it I might if I was really trying to be very British I would say I should like to have a sandwich yes and also in England they'll say things like if they want to correct you they don't say it to you directly it's sort of passive aggressive like one should remember when they are eating yes it's one should even though this is you well this is actually you you've actually made me realize I wouldn't say that I would go and say one would like a sandwich please would that be possible yes well we love the way you speak the way you write and God has given you an extraordinary gift I was just curious you know speaking to children not everyone does it well when you write to children are you writing specifically to them are you writing to everyone I'm actually writing to children because that makes me have to be really uh have to work harder like you said I have to work very hard to someone said it's like you have to go through complexity to get to the other side to simplicity yes if you don't understand it yourself and you don't go through complexity if you stay this side of complexity then you will dumb it down and it will not be it will be simplistic yeah so I think writing for children makes you work harder to understand theology enough that you can make it simple but not wrong that's always the thing but also children that because they're young it's a much greater responsibility on the writer to give the young the best work because because they're young you know some people have this idea that anyone can write children's books and as I heard one writer say well it's very easy to write a bad children's book so that's what I end up coming to if you want to give children your best work it's not easy yeah now it shouldn't look hard in fact that's a compliment if someone picks up your book and goes oh well I could do that you've probably done a good job because you haven't made it look hard um and I'm not saying that to make out that I'm so great but it just I really feel passionately about children deserve our best work and sometimes we dishonor children by thinking that somehow anything will do because their children is quite the opposite yes so sally this new book known that you've written which is a paraphrase of part of psalm 139 is going to impact a lot of children and I think some adults as well as they read it to their children and this book that we are offering right now called known by sally lloyd jones is available to you for your gift of any size to our ministry so we can reach more people with the teaching of the word of god and the proclamation of the gospel so order your own copy of known because one should do this because it will benefit one if they do very good and here's how one could go about that we're making it available to say thank you for your generous investment right now you know the timing is perfect we're reaching further than ever with the gospel and your investment will help us touch more hearts in the coming weeks and months and as you partner with us be sure to ask for your own copy of sally lloyd jones new book called known psalm 139 you can call us and make the arrangements at 1-800-821-3300 that's a 24 7 phone number 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning box 4000 riverside california 92514 or go online to harvest.org i don't know if you know about this but we have a weekend service called Harvest at Home exclusively for people that are tuning in literally from around the world listen to this we even have harvest groups where you can get into a small group with folks from all around this planet of ours and study the word of god so join us this weekend saturday and sunday for Harvest at Home at harvest.org well next time after the holiday weekend we launch a series of most requested messages from the past year it's encouragement our listeners have enjoyed the most 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
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