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. You'll have your feet on the ground, but your heart and your thoughts will be in heaven. For some people, happiness is as elusive as a feather floating on a strong breeze.
It's in their sights, then escapes before they can lay hold. Is happiness just out of bounds for some people, or are they looking in the wrong places? Pastor Greg Laurie addresses those concerns today on A New Beginning from one of this past year's most requested messages.
We're studying Paul's counsel in Philippians, some of the Bible's strongest encouragement, even though the words were written while Paul was in chains. What do you live for? If you were to sum up what you live for in one word, what would it be? Well, some would say, for me to live is, you know, to just live. Others might say, well, for me to live is pleasure.
Living for that experience, living for that rush, living for that buzz, living for that excitement. Others might say, well, you know what, I live to get even. They always have their nemesis. They always like to be in a fight.
They love to be in a conflict. There are people like this that live for these things. Another might say, well, man, I live for possessions. It's to get stuff. And then when I get that stuff, I want to get more stuff. And then when I get that other stuff, I need to get rid of this old stuff so I can make room for new stuff. Others might appear more noble and say, well, I live to acquire knowledge.
But if in your pursuit of knowledge you leave God out of the equation, you're just going to end up as a well-educated fool. So what are you driven by? What do you dream about?
What are you passionate about? I think some people are just enduring. They're just waiting for the next thing. Their favorite day of the week is someday. You know, someday their ship will come in. Someday their prince will come. Someday they'll get that promotion. Someday they'll build that dream house.
Or someday they'll retire. Now I've talked about what people live for. Let me tell you what the apostle Paul lived for. Philippians 1 21. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Oh I love that. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Now we're going to explore that a little bit more.
But let's just do a little backdrop on what we're looking at here. We're looking at the book of Philippians. And the theme that keeps bubbling up through this great epistle is happiness and joy. In fact this is probably the most buoyant, happy letter that Paul ever wrote. But yet circumstantially he really had nothing to rejoice about.
I mean if we read that Paul wrote this book you know kicking back you know in the Mediterranean enjoying life we'd say well yeah I get it. But he actually wrote this under house arrest. And he was under the control at this point of Caesar Nero. And his case was waiting to go to court. And Paul had no idea what was about to happen. He might be acquitted.
He might be beheaded. But all he knew was he was a prisoner. He could not walk about freely as he wanted to. And if that wasn't bad enough some of the believers in the church were against them. Some were even spreading lies about this great apostle. But he knew God was in control.
And here's what he wrote. Philippians 1. We're going to start in verse 12 and we'll read down to verse 16. I want you to know brothers that the things that happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel. So it has become evident to the whole palace guard and to all the rest that my chains are in Christ. And most of the brethren in the Lord having become confident in my chains are more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and strife.
Some also from goodwill. The former preach Christ from selfish ambition not sincerely supposing to add affliction to my chains but the latter out of love knowing that I'm appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way whether in pretense or in truth Christ is preached and in this I rejoice. Yes I will rejoice.
And that brings me to point number one. When you live for Christ you will accept God's will for your life. When you live for Christ which we all should be doing you will accept God's will for your life. See Paul went to Rome to preach but he ended up under house arrest.
Now how is that a good idea? Well he was reaching an elite group of people that would have not been reached otherwise so Paul understood God had his hand in it. Look at verse 12. The things that happened to me have turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.
Number two. When you live for Christ as we all should you will be a person of prayer. Again when you live for Christ you will be a person of prayer. Have you ever wondered what to pray for when you pray for fellow believers? Paul actually gives us an answer here. Look at Philippians 1 verse 9. And this I pray, he is saying to the church at Philippi, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment and that you may approve the things that are excellent and that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.
Interesting. So Paul is praying that they would grow in both love and discernment. Love and discernment. You know sometimes it seems to me as though the two are mutually exclusive. In other words some people seem to be very discerning but not very loving.
And some can be very loving and not very discerning. Now there are people that say, well I have a discernment ministry. Which is another way of saying they like to argue and be obnoxious. And you know I just think you are awful little theologically brother and they are always challenging everything. And I get this sometimes because of my work that I do in evangelism and I will go to different places and speak and come into contact with different people. So maybe I am at a conference and there is another speaker I would not agree with in every point theologically and someone says, well Greg endorses everything that that person says.
Well that is not true. And how do you know what I say to that person you know behind closed doors. And I say a lot of things to a lot of people but I don't talk about it publicly because my conversations with people are private. But I try to influence people I come into contact with in every way that I can to help them be closer to the Lord and do what He has called them to do.
I don't always do a good job of it but at least I try. But sometimes I say, well guilt by association. You know you talk to that person therefore you endorse everything they say.
No not necessarily. But I have found some of these people they are just downright mean. It is like where is the love man. They don't even check out the facts. They just jump to conclusions. As J. Vernon McGee used to say, the only exercise some Christians get is running down others and jumping to conclusions.
I think that is true. Some people are discerning but they are not loving. And I would even question if they are really discerning. Others are loving but they are not discerning. And by that I mean they just accept everything and everyone.
It is all good man. We all love the Lord you know. Whatever they believe it doesn't matter.
Well actually it does matter. There is a place for discernment. But look at Paul says here in verse 9 that they would grow in love. This I pray that your love will grow still more. Love is a mark of a true Christian. Don't say to me I love Jesus but I don't love the church. You can't love Jesus and not love the church. You can't love God who you can see if you are not willing to love your brother or sister who you can see. And so a mark of real faith. Of real love is that you will love your Christian brothers and sisters. Jesus said, by this shall all men know you are my disciples. What?
If you have what? One for another. Love one for another. So we should be loving. And the Bible tells us in Romans 5.5 the love of God is poured out in our hearts. So the love is there. So you don't even need to pray Lord I don't have any love.
You have some love. But Paul is saying I pray your love will grow. And you know how your love will grow?
Just start doing loving things. Don't wait for the emotion. Just take that little step and that benevolent gesture.
That kind word. The word of encouragement. Paul says I pray that you grow in love. But he also says I pray that you will grow in knowledge. And the way that we grow in knowledge is through the study of Scripture.
That is why we are here tonight. To study the Word of God. This is called a Bible study and a worship service. And I love Bible studies don't you? Where we can just open up the Word of God and look at what it says and see how it applies in our lives. And it concerns me that some believers are in their knowledge of Scripture like brand new Christians still.
People that have known the Lord for 10, 20, 30 years that don't even know the basic Bible doctrines and thus they get misled. And that is why Paul also says you need to grow in spiritual discernment. Verse 10 he says that you may approve the things that are excellent.
The word approve means to analyze and examine. Think carefully. Think biblically.
Think analytically. Take all things and compare them to what the Scripture says. So we need to be praying these things for others. And we need to be praying that God will do these things in our life as well. In just a moment Pastor Greg helps us see how this attitude of living for Christ extends beyond the grave.
That's coming up in just a moment. It's so encouraging when we hear that listeners are growing by hearing these studies. Hi Pastor Greg. Thank you for your ministry and commitment to share the gospel with others. My wife and I have listened to you on the radio for over 10 years and I download your messages through the Harvest app weekly. We've been Harvest Partners for about a year now and are so thankful we can share in your ministry. I love that you give an invitation to accept Jesus at the end of your messages. I'm so thankful that many people come to us saving faith each week. God bless you and your family. It's a privilege to bring these studies your way and we're thankful for our Harvest Partners who make them possible.
Would you consider partnering with us so they can continue? Make a donation online at Harvest.org. That's Harvest.org. Well we're considering the importance of living for the Lord as Pastor Greg brings his message today called, What Do You Live For?
Invite others to hear this counsel by going to Harvest.org. Now Paul tells us how living for Christ affects us in this life and the afterlife. Look at verse 21.
Philippians 1 still. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. But I have to live on in the flesh.
That will mean fruit for my labor. Yet what I shall choose I cannot tell for I am hard pressed between the two. Having the desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you and being confident of this I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith. That your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
Look again at verse 21. For me to live is Christ. Now when we hear someone say for me to live is Christ we wonder you know are these people in touch with reality really? To live is Christ?
I mean what does it even mean? Some will say well you know some are so heavenly minded there are no earthly good. And my counterpoint to that is some are so earthly minded there are no heavenly good.
And I think when you are really heavenly minded when you are really living for Christ you will be of the greatest earthly good. I mean you think about the great hospitals and the great universities and other things that have been done historically in our country. In almost every case at least in their original state they were started by followers of Jesus Christ. And you look at the great relief organizations in the world today.
They are Christian organizations. Christians are always on the front line wherever people are suffering. It doesn't matter if they believe or if they don't believe. It doesn't matter if they are Christian or if they are Muslims or if they are Buddhists.
If someone there is a tragedy. If there is a calamity Christians give. Christians help.
Christians are always doing these things. When is the last time you heard of an atheist relief organization? You know heathen purse. There is no such thing. But there is Samaritan's purse isn't there? You know nonbelievers vision.
No I have never heard of them but I have heard of world vision you know. Because they don't care for the most part. There might be some out there. There might be some exception. But by and large it is believers out there doing this work. You see real spirituality is practical.
Paul was a balanced Christian. And the most godly men and women I have had the privilege of meeting over the last 40 plus years have always been very down to earth. You know not holier than thou kind of people looking down on you. But very genuine people. Often fun loving people. People with a self-deprecating sense of humor.
Not that spacey wide eyed one clown short of a circus look. You know what I am talking about. Heavenly minded people are gracious. They are approachable.
They are assessable. And religious people are just weird. I so don't want to be a religious person. You know they get this religious vibe and they talk religiously and they look at you weird religiously. It is like just stop.
And here is my suggestion. They were always weird to start with. Their faith in Christ did not make them weird. They were weird and now they just talk about Jesus and they are still weird. Now maybe they are saved weird. I don't know. But they are weird.
Ok. That is all I know. Your faith in Christ will not make you that person. If you have faith in Christ and know what it means to live for Christ you will have your feet on the ground but your heart and your thoughts will be in heaven. And I think Paul is an example of this in so many ways. I mean there is no greater example of this than Jesus Himself. You know Jesus was a practical man. He was God in human form walking among us. But Jesus lived a real life on planet earth. He was a real living human being. But He was God walking among us. So Paul is saying to live is Christ.
And that was pretty much not just Paul's motto but I think the motto of pretty much everyone in the early church. You know if you look at the church of the first century they changed the world. They changed the world. They turned the world upside down.
And imagine it. They did it without media. You know Thomas didn't have a Twitter account. Peter didn't have an Instagram page.
Paul didn't have a Facebook page. But they had a lot of followers. And a lot of friends. And they changed the world that was there at the time. The world that was under the rule of Rome. And it is amazing to think about how they did it. The first Christians did not out argue the pagans. They outlived them. They didn't conquer paganism and dead Judaism by reacting blow by blow. Instead the Christians of the first century out fought, out prayed, and outlived the non-believers. Their weapons were positive not negative. They didn't stage protests and they didn't hold boycotts.
Have you ever noticed that? They didn't have a campaign to unseat the emperor. They would have died if they did that. Instead they prayed and preached and proclaimed the message of the death of Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the dead and they backed up that message with actions to match and they changed the planet.
They were out there loving and giving and healing and doing all the things God called them to do. So the slogan of the first century church, the church that changed the world was to live as Christ and to die as gain. What would the slogan of the 21st century church be?
What about my needs man? Something like that maybe. You know I go church shopping and I am going to try to find a church that meets all of my needs. Or maybe I go to multiple churches. Well listen if we train people to be consumers instead of communers we will end up with customers instead of disciples.
Let me say that again. If we train people to be consumers instead of communers we will end up with customers instead of disciples. So this is the church that changed the world.
And I pray that we can be the church that changes our world as well. Paul lived for Christ. But he was human. He was not perfect. Did you know the apostle Paul was not perfect. He would get irritated at times. You know when he was being mistreated by the high priest servant and actually a guy struck him he shot back at us.
Might you you whitewash wall. The guy is like what did you say. I didn't know you were the high priest servant. Whatever it is. He got ticked off.
Who likes to get hit in the face. Not the apostle Paul. When it was revealed to Paul that there were some guys that wanted to kill him.
Paul didn't walk out into the town square and say here I am. Kill me. No.
He was lowered over the side of the wall in a basket. Why? Because Paul wanted to live to see tomorrow. You know a Christian doesn't have a death wish. We don't walk around saying man I hope I die today.
But here is what we do say. To live as Christ and to die as king. I want to live today. And I want to live tomorrow. And I want to live as many days as God has given me to live. And when that day comes when I am called to heaven then that day will come.
But I am going to do everything I can to live in this day. So Paul was a practical guy and he cared about the church. Look at verse 23. I am hard pressed between the two having the desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better. But it is important for me to remain in the flesh for you.
Yeah he wanted to help them. But notice what he says. He says having the desire to depart with Christ which is far better.
Listen to this. Death for a Christian is something that is going to happen as it will happen for every person. But Paul understood that when death came and it did come for him it was a conscious existence not an unconscious oblivion.
It was to be with Christ. For me to live is Christ to die is gain. In other words he was not going to just go into a grave. It was a continuation of life not the conclusion of life.
And that life ahead was a greater and better life. Death for the believer is a promotion. Death for the believer is a graduation. Death for the believer is a coronation. When you live for Christ you are not afraid to die.
Again only the person who is said to live is Christ can then say to die is gain. Good perspective from Pastor Greg Laurie today from his series of most requested messages from the past year. And there's a lot more to come as this study continues here on A New Beginning. You know Pastor Greg all of us at one time or another have taken a trip down memory lane with our spouses. Remembering our first date and the first time we held hands.
The first time we said I love you. But you've sort of camped out on memory lane and remembered details in technicolor because there's a new movie that puts the history of Greg and Kathy Laurie up on the big screen. Isn't that right?
That's true. The movie is called Jesus Revolution. So this was not my concept to do this film this way. I was approached by filmmaker John Irwin who's directed the film's Woodlawn. I can only imagine.
I still believe American Underdog. Really a great filmmaker. And he said I want to make a movie about the Jesus movement. The Jesus Revolution. He came with a copy of Time Magazine.
They did a cover story called Jesus Revolution. He wanted to meet someone that was there. And so I was there. So I told him my story. And so he thought about it. And he wanted to make it sooner but it kept getting postponed. Other things were happening. But then he finally got around to writing the script and he decided to write the script around the story of really four people.
Greg and Kathy and Chuck and Lonnie. So Greg and Kathy in this film were very young. You know we're just kids in high school still. And it shows how we came to faith. It showed the crazy things we did before we were Christians and how we saw the emptiness of life without Jesus. It shows our love story.
Our romance. And then it's a story of Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee. Now these are two very unlikely people that came together. Chuck, a very salt of the earth, a traditional kind of a guy, a pastor of a small struggling church, and Lonnie Frisbee, a charismatic, unusual hippie evangelist. And Chuck opened his heart and let Lonnie use his gifts that he had. And it was sort of like nitro met glycerin.
And the result was a spiritual awakening. I think you're going to love this. Yeah. And we're so excited for you to go see it. It's coming out in the third week of February. And Pastor Greg, we're making available the book that sort of helped birth this film. Is that right?
Yeah, that's right. The book is called Jesus Revolution. It was written by Ellen Vaughn and me together. It's in her voice.
It's about me and Kathy and Chuck and Lonnie and all the people in that movement. But I provided her with firsthand knowledge and information of the time. She's a fantastic writer. And there's a lot more detail in the book than you'll find in the movie about that era, about that time, things that were happening. It's fascinating, very, very powerful book. And I think you're going to love reading it if you haven't read it yet. In fact, it'd be a great idea to order this book and read it before the movie comes out.
And the movie is a little different because, you know, when you do a movie, there's a certain approach that you take and sometimes it's different. But movies move you in a different way than a book does. So I just recommend read the book that will send you with no charge.
But we would ask for your gift of any size to help us continue on bringing this ministry of a new beginning to people around the world. And then you can read it and then you can go see the film yourself in a theater near you. I guarantee you'll be moved deeply by it. You'll laugh out loud.
I think you'll even shed a tear or two. And it's going to be a movie that I hope will move people toward Christ of all ages. Yeah, yeah, that's right. That's certainly our goal. In fact, that's the focus of this entire ministry, to share the hope of the gospel. And we're excited to do this in some new and exciting ways. You know, we've been privileged to reach six million people over the last thirty years through our large-scale harvest crusades.
Well, it's projected that this movie could be seen by ten million people this year alone. And we appreciate your partnership that's helping us reach out to people who may never accept an invitation to go to church with you, but they would accept an invitation to go to the movies. And as you send a donation right now, as Pastor Greg said, we'd like to send you the book called Jesus Revolution. Call us anytime 24-7 at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write us at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514.
Or simply go online to harvest.org. Well, next time, join Pastor Greg for more insight on the importance of living for the Lord and how that's the key to finding the happiness we're all looking for. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie.
Hey, everybody. Thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries, follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org. And to find out how to know God personally, go to harvest.org and click on Know God.
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