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 Pastor Greg Laurie says believers have been forgiven of their sin, and when we focus forward, we can actually forgive ourselves.
Author Max Lakato has pointed out that a car's windshield is a lot bigger than the rearview mirror because we need to focus on where we're going, not where we've been. Too many of us want to drag our past failures right into our present. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us break from the sins of our past and focus on finishing our lives well. It's among the most requested messages from this past year.
Glad you're joining us for one of our top 10 listener favorites. You know, the Christian life is really a long-distance run. We're all in this race.
We need to run this race to win. We've got to play by the rules, but what principles do we learn here about running the race of life? Very familiar words in verse 12 of Philippians 3. Paul says, not that I've already attained or I'm already perfected, but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of me. Brothers, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind and reaching forward to the things that are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, let us, as many of us are mature, have this mind, and if any of you think otherwise, God will reveal this to you. So I started with the idea of the race of life. We're all in this race. We need to run this race to win. We've got to play by the rules, but what principles do we learn here about running the race of life?
If you're taking notes, here's principle number one. You must be dissatisfied with where you presently are spiritually. Paul says in verse 12, it's not that I have attained or I'm already perfected. You see, Paul was satisfied with Christ, but he wasn't satisfied with himself. So he's saying, I have a long ways to go. Point number two, get rid of extra weight and the things that would hinder you. Hebrews 12 says, lay aside the weight and the sin that so easily besets you in the race of life.
We don't want excess baggage. So you need to ask yourself periodically as you're running this race, as you're walking with Christ, is there someone or is there something that's slowing you down? Maybe there's someone who's a bad influence on you spiritually. You know, you're trying to walk with God, but when you're around them, they're saying, oh, come on, chill out, relax. Let's try this.
Let's do that. They're not a good influence. Or there's something that's slowing you down. Maybe it's something you're doing that's impeding your spiritual performance. So periodically I have to ask myself the question, this thing that I'm doing, is it a wing or is it a weight?
Is it a wing or is it a weight? Is it speeding me up or slowing me down? Is it building me up or is it tearing me down? Number three, in the race of life, we must run with the right motive. Run with the right motive, Paul speaks of only one receiving the prize, running for the gold, if you will. But our primary motive is not running for an award or a reward, but there are rewards promised to Christians. But our primary motive is found in Philippians 3.10. Paul says that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings being conformed to His death. That's our motive, that I may know Him. Our mission statement at Harvest is knowing God and making Him know. Paul says my determined purpose in life is to know Him.
Notice he says it's to know Him, he doesn't say it's to know about Him. And I fear that a lot of people know about God instead of knowing God. They can say things about God, even say things from Scripture, but is there that deep fellowship and relationship with Him? Jesus said, many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name? In Your name did we not cast out demons? In Your name did we not do wonderful miracles? And then Jesus says, I will say to them, I never knew you, you workers of iniquity.
I never knew you. They knew about Jesus, but He didn't know them at all. Number four, Paul had a clear objective and focus on life. Paul had a clear objective and focus on life. Verse 13, this one thing I do. So sometimes, you know, we're all frantic in all these things. We're doing many things. Let's not forget the one thing. Sometimes the many things can take the place of the one thing. And as I've often said, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Principle number five, we're almost done here, don't look back.
Don't look back. Have you ever tried to run and look over your shoulder behind you? More than one race has been lost when the person who was in the lead position cannot avoid the temptation to see if that other person was there.
And boom, they hit the finish line or the ribbon just a little bit before. So we can't look back. Paul says in verse 13, forgetting the things that are behind and reaching forward to the things that are before.
What does that mean? To forget does not mean to fail to remember. I mean there are things that I remember that I can't necessarily forget.
When Paul uses this word forget, it means don't be influenced or affected by it any longer. I read an interesting article in the paper about a group in New York City that decided to shred their regrets for New Year's. So they brought photos of ex-boyfriends, bad medical reports, stacks of unpaid bills. They put them all in a giant shredder in Times Square where a garbage truck would cart them off forever. And in the article one person was quoted to say, I feel liberated after shoving a photo of her ex-fiance with his new girlfriend into the industrial size machine. The article says, another lady visiting from Ecuador sees the opportunity to banish three unpleasant thoughts, her high cholesterol, her high blood pressure, and her bills. So that's fun, but guess what?
The bills still have to be paid and you probably still have high blood pressure and your boyfriend is still with that girl. Now you can shred all you want. It's a nice sentiment, but it isn't going to change anything. But when the Bible says we can forget these things, that means we don't have to be influenced by them any longer and to be effectively forgetting something, I must first be forgiven. There can be no forgetting without forgiveness.
For the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3.15, God requires that which is past. Because God forgives and forgets, we can do the same. Let me say that again, because God forgives and forgets, we can do the same because the Lord says there's sins and iniquities while I remember no more. Now this does not mean that God is having a lapse in memory. What God is saying is, I'll no longer hold your sin against you. In other words, your sins no longer affect your standing with me or influence my attitude toward you. Let me say it again, when the Lord says your sins and iniquities while I remember no more, He is saying that your sins do not affect your standing with me or influence my attitude toward you. To forget means we break the power of the past by living for the future.
Put things behind you. Jesus said, remember Lot's wife. Why should I remember Lot's wife? Well, because she made a big mistake.
You remember her story? God was delivering Lot and his wife and his family out of Sodom and Gomorrah, which He was judging. And the angel of the Lord said, come on, this is the way out and don't look back. So they're walking away and now God's judgment is raining on the city and quite honestly, that would be very tempting to look at.
So we might say, God's being a little hard on Lot's wife. I mean, she looked back. Yeah, she looked back and the Bible says she became a pillar of salt. So she's like walking along, she looks frozen in time.
Like one of those people at Pompeii that were caught in the explosion of lava from, I think, Mount Vesuvius. But anyway, so this is Lot's wife looking back. But it's interesting because the phrase that is used for her looking back means to look with longing. It was deliberate. It's not just, oh wow, no, it's like, I'm looking and I'm going to look if I'm supposed to or not.
It's intentional. Have you ever looked at something with longing? Coming back to Krispy Kreme. Have you ever walked in there when the signs lit up and see those little glistening donuts come out of the little conveyor belt? Here they come. First thing, you know, they go in the little grease thing, get kind of, now the glaze, just wait. You just wait for them.
It's amazing. And you look with longing, at least I do. Or you go to the pet store and you see that cute dog.
Oh, I want him. You look with longing. Or you walk through the mall and you see the cute outfit in the window. You look with longing. Or you look at something else.
The idea is that's what she was doing. Don't look back. In a moment, Pastor Greg points out how to respond when our adversary wants to remind us of the sins of our past. That's coming up in a moment. 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 at Home at Harvest.org. Well today, Pastor Greg is encouraging us to focus on the road ahead and not look back. Encouragement from his message called, The Race We Must Win.
Jesus said, no man having put his hand on the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God. So look, if you're going to run the race of life, you need to put the past behind you. Stop living in the past. Don't revisit the so-called good old days because that's what defeated Israel in the wilderness. Remember they say, oh we remember the old days back in Egypt when you know we used to eat garlics and leeks and onions and now we have this stinking man and we're so sick of it.
Garlics, leeks and onions, man their breath must have stunk. But they had sort of taken the life of bondage in Egypt under the whip of the Pharaoh and sort of imagined it as the greatest life ever when it was the worst life ever. And sometimes, you know, when we've turned our back on our old life or we're walking with Christ, the devil will come to you and maybe bring back one of those memories where you had a little fun. Hey, remember that time that this happened?
You're like, yeah. I remember. Yeah, my old girlfriend. Oh, I remember my old girlfriend. I'm going to look her up on Facebook. Who's that old lady? I'm as old as she is. Don't live in the past.
Live in the moment and look to the future. The devil won't remember of the misery you used to have. He won't say, hey, remember that time, you know, you drank a lot and you threw up all over the place. Remember that? No. Hey, remember that time you were so despondent you actually thought of killing yourself? Remember that? No, he won't remind you of that. He'll remind you of a few fleeting pleasures. Because the first step to going back is looking back.
You see? So forgetting the things that are behind and reaching forward to the things that are before. Let me add one other thing to this forgetting the past. It's also forgetting past victories. And by that, I think it's a good thing to reflect back on what the Lord has done. But listen to this, sometimes successes are harder for people to get over than failures.
What do I mean by that? Success is, oh, man, we had this great success. It was just fantastic. Okay, good, but that was then and this is now. And I'll have people come up to me and say, oh, man, remember the old days, the old days?
Jesus movement days? Remember those days? Yeah, those are awesome days. Remember that? It was so great? Yeah. Wow, just remember, hey, you know what?
That was like over 40 years ago. God's doing some amazing stuff right here, right now, and I'm excited about that. And I'm looking forward to what the Lord will do. So let's sum up and conclude. Number one, you must be dissatisfied with where you are. Number two, get rid of extra weight and things that would hinder you. Thirdly, run with the right motive. Fourth, have a clear objective and focus. Five, don't look back.
One last point and I'm done. You must press on even when it gets hard in the race of life. If you want to be a happy person, press on when it gets hard.
Hey, you'll be happy after you win the race. Oh, you know when you're running a race and if it's a long distance run and you're in the last lap, it's like your arms and legs are made out of rubber. You feel like your heart is going to burst out of your chest. You can't even imagine finishing this, but somehow you press on and then you win.
And then you know what? It was all worth it, wasn't it? Even though you wanted to walk off that track.
Even though you wanted to quit that race, press on. Verse 13, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. The word that he uses there for pressing comes from the Greek word aganizo. Can you guess what English word we get from that? Agonize. Yes, sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it's painful.
But what's that expression? No pain, no gain? That's true in the spiritual life too to some degree. Yeah, the theme of Philippians is happiness and joy.
Nineteen times in four chapters Paul mentions joy, rejoicing, or gladness. And that includes running and finishing the race of life. Paul said to his friends at the church of Ephesus in Acts 20, 24, I want to finish my race with joy. Finish my race with joy.
Listen, it's not enough to start the race of life. We must finish it. Otherwise we've been running in vain.
In his last epistle the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4.7, I fought a good fight. I finished the race. I've kept the faith. Henceforth there remains a crown of righteousness for me and all who love is appearing.
That's the objective. You finish this race that you have begun. You say, well, Greg, I have a long time. You know, I'm just going to enjoy my little time off and I'll get back in the race later. Hey, you don't know when your race is going to end. You don't know when your race is going to end. You think you're at the middle of your race? You think you're at the beginning of your race? News flash, you might be toward the end of your race. You say, what do you mean by that? Because do you know when your life is going to end?
No, I don't think you do. So you want to make every day count. You know, my son Christopher has been with the Lord nine years now. And on the plaque where he is buried, we have this passage. 2 Timothy, I fought the good fight. I finished the race.
I kept the faith. He did. He didn't know he was toward the end of his race. I didn't know he was toward the end of his race, but he was. But thankfully, he finished his race.
And I want you to finish yours. You know, sometimes I think we feel if we're young, we just have the luxury of a lot of time and we'll get around to spiritual things later. But the reality is none of us know when life will come to an end. So that's why we want to always be ready to meet God and why we want to make every day count. And there might be some of you here that haven't even gotten into this race yet. You know, maybe you're here at church for the first time or maybe you don't even know what it means to have this relationship with God. I talked about people who know about God but don't know God.
And that's possible. You know about God. But you have no relationship with Him. And that's really what Christianity is. If you really want to simplify it, it's a relationship with God. I'm not into religion. I don't know about you. I'm not attracted to stained glass and rituals and incense and all that. That has no allure to me. I'm into a relationship with God in heaven. That's what attracts me.
That's what I want. Some people like sort of religious things and traditions and all that. Fine.
Whatever. I'm just saying I'm not one of those people. But I am really into a friendship with God. I'm really interested in a relationship with God. And God is even more interested in a relationship with you.
And He wants to come and live inside of you. That's what being a Christian is, having Christ live in you. And I ask you right now, is Jesus Christ living in your life?
Has He forgiven you of your sin? If you were to die tonight, and yes you could, and I could, would you go to heaven? If you're a Christian, you will, for sure. But if you're not a Christian friend, you won't.
You won't. And sadly, you'll stand before God and He'll say, I never knew you. Yeah, but Lord, I went to church on Easter and Christmas sometimes. And Lord, I was baptized as a child. I tried to be a moral person. Lord, I recycled.
Lord, I, yeah, really? I never knew you. I never knew you. But if you will believe in Him now, He'll say, welcome, come into the joy of your Lord. You determine what will happen on the other side by what you do with Jesus Christ on this side. Jesus died on the cross for you. He spilled His blood for you. He paid the price for every sin you've ever committed and He'll forgive you of all that sin right now and come and live in you as your forever friend, as your Savior and as your Lord if you'll ask Him to come in. And we're going to close now in prayer and I'm going to give you an opportunity to ask Jesus Christ to come into your life. Let's all bow our heads. Father, I pray now for any here that may not yet know You.
They may know about You, but they don't know You yet. Lord, would You help them to see their need for Jesus and help them to come to You and believe in You? We would ask. Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important word of prayer. And if you'd like to make a change today in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg would like to help you with that and he'll do so before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes. Pastor Greg, your new movie called Jesus Revolution is coming out in just a few weeks, the third week of February.
That's right. What do you think will surprise people the most when they see Jesus Revolution? Okay, I think they're going to be surprised at how gritty and realistic it is. We don't pull our punches. We show the emptiness of bad choices, including drugs.
We show the search of a generation. Number two, I think they'll be surprised at how funny the film is at times. It's huge laughs in certain moments of the film, very enjoyable. I think they'll be moved very emotionally. I think they'll shed a tear or two when they watch certain scenes from this film. But then the last thing I would say is they'll be surprised at how much gospel is in it, like how the gospel is there in the story. And there's even a moment where Greg and this hippie evangelist named Lonnie Frisbee pray together. And I believe when that scene is played in the theaters that there will be people praying that prayer along with Greg. So there's a lot of twists and turns in this film that surprise people.
But I've had so many people say they just loved it. And John Irwin, who's made many incredible films, Woodlawn, American Underdog, I Still Believe, I Can Only Imagine, says hands down, this is the best film I've ever made. It's the most important film I've ever made. Every film I've made has been leading to this film.
So I really think you need to get out there and see this film in the theater. And you know what? Take someone with you. It's a great shared experience with someone you care about. Take someone with you that does not yet know the Lord. I think you could have an incredible conversation after and you might even find that person open to giving their life to Jesus.
Yeah, that's right. And what a great thing that would be. Well, mark the date. February 24th is the official release of Jesus Revolution nationwide. Begin making plans now to bring someone with you to see this film. It's a moving evangelistic story wrapped in a great motion picture. And you know, that's what we're all about, sharing the hope of Christ with those who need that hope. Thanks for partnering with us as we share the gospel in this innovative way. You partner with us as you support the film at your local theater, and you partner with us when you send a donation to support sharing the gospel. In fact, to thank you for your generosity right now, we want to send you the book that tells the story in more detail.
It's also called Jesus Revolution. We'll send the book to thank you for your investment. So get in touch today. Our 24-7 phone number is 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300.
Or go online to harvest.org. Well, Pastor Greg, you spoke today about having a relationship with the Lord. Yes. Someone can enter into that kind of relationship with God right now, can't they? Yeah, they really can. That's the amazing thing. I think people are surprised that it doesn't take years to become a Christian. It doesn't take months. It doesn't take weeks. It doesn't take days.
It doesn't even take hours. You can believe on the spot. And I would like to lead you in a prayer where you can ask for His forgiveness, a prayer where you can receive Jesus Christ into your life as your Savior and Lord. So if you want Christ to come into your life, if you want Him to forgive you of your sin, if you want a second chance in life, if you want to go to heaven when you die, stop what you're doing and pray after me these words. Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I'm sorry for my sin, and I turn from it now, and I choose to follow you from this moment forward as Savior and Lord, as God and friend. Thank you for loving me and calling me and forgiving me in Jesus' name I pray, amen. Amen. And listen, if you have just prayed those words with Pastor Greg, the Lord has heard you and forgiven you of your sin.
The Bible assures us Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And we'd like to send you some materials to help you begin to live this new life. We call it our New Believers Growth Packet. Just ask for it, and we'll send it to you free of charge if you prayed for the first time today with Pastor Greg. Call us at 1-800-821-3300.
Reach us any time 24-7 at 1-800-821-3300. Or go online to harvest.org and click Know God. Well, next time, as our top ten series continues, Pastor Greg invites us to take a good look at ourselves, an introspective look. He asks the question, what do you live for?
That's next time. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. To the day, the day when life begins A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life, share your story, leave a review on your favorite podcast app and help others find hope.
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