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 gregg.harvest.org. Again, it's gregg.harvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. And it's an apt warning for today's church. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Again, you hear all the angels are singing. This is the day, the day when life begins.
Send those messages to many of today's believers. It's one of this past year's most requested messages, titled The Seven Love Letters of Jesus to His Church. And we'll pay close attention to the kind of love He's talking about.
This is the day, the day when life begins. And then there's a very weird song. Some of you might remember this. Yummy, yummy, yummy, I've got love in my tummy. But what is love? We talk about this love. It's in our tummy.
We need it. But what is this love we're talking about? Well, another song answers that question by saying, love is a many-splendored thing.
Another song says, love is the answer. Led Zeppelin reminded we need a whole lot of love. And then Meat Loaf sang, I would do anything for love. Personally, I'd do anything for Meat Loaf.
Not the singer, but the actual food. And then, of course, Whitney Houston said, I will always love you. But then Phil Collins gives us a warning saying, you can't hurry love.
But why? Well, another song gives the answer. It says, that's the way love goes.
Okay, let's review. Try to figure this all out. Love is many-splendored. It's in our tummy. We need a whole lot of it. But we can't hurry it because that's the way it goes.
And it's what the world needs. Well, maybe the answer is found in this song title, I said I love you, but I lied. Maybe that's why the Black Eyed Peas sang, where is the love? I think I have the answer because Adele has a song with the title, send my love to your new lover.
Okay, now we see where the problem really is. And then Lady Gaga sang, stupid love. The Beatles sang, all you need is love.
And then they broke up and sued each other. Another song warns, too much love will kill you. And maybe that's why Dionne Warwick sang, I'll never love this way again. And Tina Turner sang, what's love got to do with it?
Concluding with the Jay Giles band who sang Love Stinks. Yeah, so if you got your definition of love from songs, you're in trouble. Let me tell you what the Bible says about love. The Bible says God is love. Is there any better definition of love than that? That God is love.
And guess what? God loves you. And he proved it by sending his own son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for you. Jesus said in John 3.16, for God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, and whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
That's it. God wants a relationship with you. I remember when I was in elementary school, we had to give Valentine's Day cards to everyone in the class so no one would feel left out. That reminds me of an episode of the Simpsons cartoon TV show where Lisa Simpson gave a Valentine's card to the nerdy and unpopular Ralph Wiggum because no one else was giving him any. And it was a cute little card on the front of it. It was a little train. And the words were there, I choo, choo, choose you.
Ralph took this personally and thought Lisa had chosen him and pursued her for the rest of the episode. But I want you to know something. God has chosen you. He cho, cho, chose you. And we're told in Ephesians 1.4, he loves us and because of this he chose us and picked us out for himself as his own children before the foundation of the world. So God loves you. He chose you. He wants a relationship with you.
And he doesn't want anything to break that relationship. And sometimes in his love he has to correct us. And that's what we see in these love letters of Jesus to the seven churches. Enter the devil. Just as surely as there is a God in heaven who loves you, there is a devil who hates you and wants to destroy you. Satan wants to entice you and get you to break your fellowship with God. In fact that is the devil's goal each and every day.
He wants to get you distracted, defeated and ultimately destroyed. Jesus summed it up this way in John 10. Speaking of the devil he said, he comes only to steal, kill and destroy.
So we have to understand that there is a God in heaven who loves us, wants a relationship with us. There is a devil headed to hell that wants to distract us and destroy us. And by the way the devil never takes a day off. Wouldn't that be nice if we found out that Satan takes Mondays off.
I think we would still get ourselves into trouble by the way even without him tempting us. But be that as it may the devil never takes a day off. He doesn't take an hour off.
He doesn't take five minutes off. In fact Revelation 12 says, The devil has come down to you in great anger knowing he has a little time. Listen to this. Even if some Christians don't necessarily believe it the devil believes that Jesus is coming back. Now that should motivate us to live a godly life but knowing his time is limited, knowing his days are numbered, Satan is trying to wreak as much havoc as he possibly can. But don't let that scare you because the Bible reminds us greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.
We need to be aware and we need to be prepared. So we are looking together at the book of Revelation. Remember Revelation it is singular not plural right.
So don't call it revelations. Revelation reveals, it unveils a lot of things. It unveils the afterlife. It unveils the future. It shows us a God who is in control of everything that is happening and is in control of everything that is coming.
Revelation reveals the future to us but Revelation also reveals us to us. It shows us what Jesus thinks of us in the church today and what we must be avoiding. In the first chapter of Revelation Jesus identifies himself as walking in the midst of the church. So he is with each one of us. As you are gathering together watching this wherever you are Jesus is there with you and he has something he wants to say to you. Now seven churches are addressed by Jesus.
He sends these love letters if you will. We already looked at two of them. We looked at the church of Ephesus and the church of Smyrna. Remember in Revelation 2 the church of Ephesus was a church leaving its first love.
Not losing it because they knew where it was so they could return to it again. Maybe that describes you right now. You have had a passion that has been replaced by passivity. Your worship has been replaced by works.
Your inspiration has been replaced by perspiration. Remember what Jesus said to the church of Ephesus. Remember from where you will fall and repent and do the first works quickly.
I have summed it up this way. The three R's of getting right with God. Remember. Repent.
Repeat. But then we come to the church of Smyrna which is a suffering church. This time of church history when millions of believers gave their lives for the Lord. Because they would not say Caesar is Lord but instead said Jesus is Lord. But rather than weakening them persecution actually strengthened them.
Know this. The church has never been stronger historically than when it has been persecuted. When believers are persecuted it seems to have almost a refining effect on them. I mean I think if the believers weren't persecuted they would have stayed in Jerusalem forever. The Holy Spirit was poured out on them on the day of Pentecost.
It was awesome. And they would have just had a nice little holy huddle. But persecution began against the church. Led in many ways by a man known as Saul of Tarsus.
Saul of Tarsus later to become the great apostle Paul when he came to faith on the Damascus road. But they spread out everywhere preaching the gospel. And so to the persecuted believer Jesus says, Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.
Listen to this. One of the signs of the end times is persecution. The most persecuted people on the earth today are followers of Jesus Christ. And we even see persecution happening in the United States.
So what should we do? How should we react when persecution comes our way? You might be surprised by my answer. If you are being persecuted be happy about it. You are saying what?
Yes. That is what Jesus told us. Jesus says in Matthew 5 11, God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it says Jesus. Be very glad for a great award awaits you in heaven.
Isn't that great? Persecution is actually a confirmation you are a child of God. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Hey 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 Pastor Greg is helping us consider Jesus specific messages to the seven churches of Revelation including his counsel to the persecuted church. He continues now with his message from Revelation 2. So now we come to a different kind of problem in the church. Satan realizes that he can't destroy the church through persecution. Instead of weakening them they've turned into this lean mean preaching machine. So he changes his tactics and he decides to infiltrate the church. You've heard of the old expression.
If you can't beat him join him. As we come now to our next church called the Church of Pergamos the devil effectively joins the church. Revelation chapter 2 verse 12.
Read with me if you would. To the angel of the church of Pergamos write these things says he that has a sharp two edged sword I know your works where you dwell where Satan's throne is and you hold fast to my name and you did not deny my faith even in the days in which Antipas my faithful martyr was killed among you where Satan dwells. You know it's interesting that's mentioned twice where Satan dwells. Listen the devil is not the equal of God. God is omniscient which means he knows everything. The devil is limited in his knowledge.
God is omnipotent which means all powerful. The devil has limitations to his power. And God is omnipresent which means present everywhere but the devil can only be in one place at one time. So if the devil's in San Francisco he can't be in Moscow.
And if he's in Moscow he can't be in wherever. So the point is he seemed to have set his seat up in this city where the church was. And what's happening here with this church is they're starting to compromise. It starts with little things and it ends up in big things. That's the way sin works. Little sins turn into big sins.
Little compromises turn into big problems. Did you know that the venom of a baby rattler is more potent drop per drop than an adult rattler. I've seen baby rattlers in the wild and they're just little. They have a little rattle. Little fangs.
You know you want to pick them and go look at the baby rattler. And he's just going to oh he bit me. It didn't even hurt. Feeling weak.
Feeling faint. You know don't mess around with sin. This is the problem with the church of Pergamos is they were tolerant of sin. Look at verse 14. I have a few things against you because you have those who hold the doctrine of Balaam. Who taught Balaam to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality. Okay so who's Balaam and who's Balaam? Balaam was the king of the Moabites.
The enemies of Israel. He wanted to destroy the nation Israel. So he hired Balaam the prophet. Now I don't know where he found Balaam the prophet.
I think you could have spelled prophet. P-R-O-F-I-T instead of the biblical spelling Balaam seemed to be a prophet for hire. So Balaam says look man I want you to curse these Israelites. Curse them in the name of God so we don't have to deal with them on the battlefield. Incredibly Balaam the prophet agrees.
Yes I will do that. Well the Lord comes to Balaam and says I don't want you to do that. But Balaam decides to do it anyway. So the next day he gets his donkey and he's riding along and all of a sudden his donkey just stops and it steps. Balaam is like come on let's go.
Let's go. And the donkey stops and then the donkey walks a little further and they're in between two rock walls. And the donkey slams up against the wall hitting Balaam's leg. Now he's angry. Balaam pulls out his dick and he's beating his donkey.
He's so angry. And the Bible says the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey who said why are you beating me. That's amazing. What's more amazing to me is without missing a beat Balaam says because you're not doing what I want you to do. And the donkey says haven't I been a good donkey.
Haven't I always done what you wanted me to do. Balaam says yeah you know I have to agree. You've been a very good donkey.
They're having this conversation. Well here's what Balaam didn't know. The donkey seemed to have more sense than Balaam did because the donkey saw an angel of the Lord was sword drawn. The angel's probably thinking oy vey.
I mean this guy's talking to his donkey. Finally the angel makes himself visible and Balaam sees what's going on but the angel was trying to stop him. So Balaam didn't do exactly what Balaam wanted him to do but he came up with a little plan. He said listen Balaam I have an idea.
Here's what you need to do. Get your really foxy babes from Moab to go sexually entice those young Israeli boys to come into their tents and make them worship at your little altars and you worship your false gods. And they'll go for it and God will judge them.
And that's exactly what happened. So what is this saying to us? Well Balaam. The sin of Balaam is compromise. He wanted to do something even when God told him not to do it. And there are people like this today.
They say well I'm a Christian. I want to go to heaven but I kind of want to live like hell. I still want to party. I still want to cheat. I still want to lie.
I still want to do whatever I need to do or whatever I want to do. And God is saying no. That's compromise. That is the doctrine of Balaam.
Don't live that way. So we need to follow the advice Jesus gives here to Pergamos. Verse 16. Repent or I'll come to you quickly and fight against those with a sword of my mouth. He that has an ear to hear let him hear what the Spirit is saying. It says God's wake up call.
Let me just say this. Am I talking to somebody right now that says they're a Christian but you're sleeping with your boyfriend or your girlfriend? You say you're a Christian but you're having an affair on your spouse. You say you're a Christian but you're lying on your tax returns. You say you're a Christian and you regularly tear others down and denigrate them and slander them.
Hold on now. You're like the people in the church of Pergamos and you're like Balaam. You're compromising and that is not what God wants. Bringing us to our fourth church identified as Thyatira. So they go from compromise with Pergamos to full blown acceptance of sin in the church of Thyatira.
Revelation 2 verse 19. Jesus says, I know your works, your love, your servants, your faith, and your patience. And as to your works, your last are more than your first. So hey commence them.
Some of you are doing pretty well. Nevertheless I have a few things against you because you allow that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality. And he thinks sacrifice to idols. I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality and she did not repent. So who is Jezebel? Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab. She was a wicked woman who was the queen of Israel. And she believed in the worship of the false god of Baal. Jezebel was the one to put the contract out on the prophet Elijah. And said I am going to put that man to death.
And she actually influenced the whole nation. So the church of Thyatira had grown tolerant of sin. Have you grown tolerant of sin in your life? Are there things you know you should not be doing but your conscience doesn't seem to be kicking in anymore? You know we have a little smoke alarm in our kitchen and it's overly sensitive. Well just this morning Kathy was cooking something and the alarm goes off all throughout the house. There's smoke in your house. There's smoke and you go down to the kitchen there's like hardly any smoke at all. Fortunately the fire department did not come. An overly sensitive smoke alarm.
Better to have that than one that doesn't work. Maybe you have a very tender heart. A sensitive conscience. And when you do something wrong. When you think something wrong you feel guilt and remorse over it.
Rejoice. That means your conscience is working. But if you can go and sin. If you can go and do things that the Bible says are wrong before God. And not feel any pain of guilt or any remorse.
Something isn't working. Pray that God will resensitize your conscience. Today's study title here on A New Beginning. The Seven Love Letters of Jesus to His Church. Well Pastor Greg the new movie Jesus Revolution will be out soon as our listeners may know. It's the story of Greg and Kathy Laurie falling in love in the 70s set against the story of the Jesus movement that happened at the same time.
So about the love story. Our listeners have heard you mention some key phrases that you said to Kathy when you were dating. Famous phrases.
Maybe even infamous phrases. Let me fire them at you and you tell me if they're in the movie. Alright? Yes. Okay. So you were dating Kathy and you said at one point Kathy if you ever get between me and God we're through. Is that in the movie?
That's in the movie. Okay. Alright. Let's go to number two. One time your let's call it a proposal sort of went like this.
So Kathy I guess we're getting married. Is that in the movie? That's not in the movie.
Okay. But that happened in real life. That happened in real life. Yeah we're just I was such a romantic. I didn't get down on one knee. I don't even know if I had a ring. We were just sitting at a table in a restaurant and I said to Kathy so I guess we're getting married. Huh? And Kathy said that's the first time I knew that you wanted to marry me and I couldn't believe I said it that way.
What was wrong with me? But hey we've been married almost 50 years so we did something wrong. Maybe that's a secret. That's it. Stop with the fancy proposals.
Just say to the girl you want to marry the guy you want to marry so I guess we're going to get married. Huh? Okay.
One more question. Did your infamous Corvair make it into the movie? Oh yes.
The Corvair is featured very prominently in the film. Okay. Did it catch fire? No.
No it did not. But it breaks down all the time which the Corvair constantly was doing. Now when I say Corvair understand I'm not saying Corvette. No. Corvair.
No. So the Corvair if you Google it, it was a car that was so unsafe that they wanted to take it off the road but somehow it survived. The engine was in the back. So I was driving my Corvair once and I plowed into the back of a car. Now I have to explain that to stop the Corvair you had to pump the brakes three times quickly. So I was cruising along and this guy in a Cadillac in front of me stopped and I went oh no pump number one, pump number two, couldn't get to pump number three. Boom plowed into the back of his car. The entire front of my car crumpled up. That's why they wanted to take it off the road. Literally my headlights were like cross-eyed and yet it still drove. I didn't even hardly put a dent in this fender. So I drove that car with the cross-eyed headlights for a while and finally I was pulled over by the police.
They said you can't drive that car anymore. So yeah but the Corvair is in the movie and actually is featured in a number of scenes. Well as we said Jesus Revolution is a fascinating movie that follows the life of Greg and Kathy Laurie and the lives of Pastor Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee and several others. It was the time of the Jesus movement or as Time Magazine called it the Jesus revolution.
It was a true time of spiritual awakening and the time is right for another spiritual awakening and you know this film could help lay the groundwork. We hope you'll bring an unsafe friend to see Jesus Revolution when it opens the third week of February and that you'll partner with us in sharing the gospel in innovative new ways such as this. If you can invest right now we'd like to send you the book that launched the movie.
The book is also called Jesus Revolution. We'll send it your way to say thank you for your donation right now. So call us at 1-800-821-3300.
Reach us anytime at 1-800-821-3300 or go online to Harvest.org. Well next time Pastor Greg has more insight from Jesus' candid messages to the seven churches of Revelation. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. This is the day the day when life begins. Hey everybody thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. So for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner just go to Harvest.org.
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