We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.
Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. What many believers need is to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. So God wants to fill you with the Spirit over and over again. Ever have guest speakers at your church? What if one Sunday morning the surprise speaker was Jesus himself? He steps to the pulpit, his words are loving, inspirational, insightful. But then he says, I'm going to speak frankly for just a moment.
There's something on my mind. Every ear would be listening. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out that's essentially what the Lord did with seven churches of the first century.
We spoke frankly and we should listen intently. We're looking together at the book of Revelation. Remember, 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's with each one of us. As you're 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.
And maybe that describes you right now. You've had a passion that has been replaced by passivity. Your worship has been replaced by works.
Your inspiration has been replaced by perspiration.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 have fallen, repent and do the first works quickly.
I've 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, Jesus is Lord, but instead said, Jesus is Lord. But rather than weakening them, persecution actually strengthened them. 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 them, join them. 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. And 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. So we need to follow the advice Jesus gives here to Pergamos. Verse 16, 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. 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, So, hey, commence.
There's some of you doing pretty well. So who's 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'm going to put that man to death.
And she actually influenced the whole nation. So the church of Thyatira had grown tolerant of sin. Jesus tells them to repent. Now we come to the church of Sardis in Revelation chapter 3, verse 1. To the angel of the church in Sardis write, Here with these churches we've looked at, we see the natural regression of sin. Sin always pulls you down. So you begin to lose your passion like the believers in the church of Ephesus. Instead of moving forward, you're starting to move backwards. Then you start compromising like the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira. And you end up dead like Sardis.
As I've said before, no one generally plans on backsliding. But one day you wake up and you say, what happened? What happened to my life? What happened to my marriage?
What happened to my health? I made all these bad decisions. How did I get here? I never wanted to go to this place but here I am.
It started through little compromises that led to this slippery slope of sin. Sardis is a church that looks good on the outside but they're dead on the inside. Have you ever been to a Hollywood set? You realize that when you watch these movies and TV shows that a lot of times they're not real buildings. They're just the facade of a building and behind it are pieces of wood holding it up. And so in many ways this is a church that looked good on the outside but they were dead on the inside.
Is that a description of someone I'm talking to right now? Everyone thinks you're just the greatest Christian of all time but there's a deadness inside of you. That's what was happening with this church. So what can a dead church do?
Or let me personalize it. What can a believer do if they feel that they're in a deadened state? Well the great physician. The Lord himself gives us prescription for recovery. You know if you're not feeling well and you go to the doctor. If you don't do what the doctor says that's not on him.
It's on you. Heard about a patient who went to his doctor and said, you know doc it's been one month since I saw you and I feel worse than I felt on the day I came to your office. The doctor said, well did you follow the instructions on the medicine I gave you? And the person said yes I did. The bottle said keep tightly closed.
Yeah well you close it after you're done but open it and take the medicine. And so Jesus is giving his medicine. Here's what he's saying.
Here's what you need to do. If you find yourself feeling spiritually dead it's all found in his description of himself. In verse 1 of chapter 3 he says he's the one who holds the seven spirits of God and seven stars. The seven spirits are a symbol of the Holy Spirit in his fullness.
What many believers need is to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Let's say you bought a brand new car. You drove it off the lot. You were loving it. Ran perfectly for a week.
Maybe a week and a half. And then one day it just stopped. So you have it towed back to the dealer. You say what's wrong with this car you sold me. You ripped me off and they look inside of your car and they turn on the ignition and you're on empty. Your fuel is gone. They said did you fill it up with gas? What? You have to fill this up with gas?
Yes you do. Sometimes in our life as Christians we're going along. We're starting to sputter and we're starting to stall.
And we don't know what's wrong. You need a refill. You need to be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians chapter 5 says be filled with the Spirit. Speaking to yourself in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
Singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord. And that phrase be filled means be filled over and over again. So God wants to fill you with the Spirit and he wants to refill you.
That's what they needed. They needed a refill of the Holy Spirit. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. You know there's nothing like hearing the word of God and worshiping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at Harvest.org. You can join Christians literally from around the world as we worship and we study the word of God together.
So join us for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well Pastor Greg is leading our study of Jesus messages to the seven churches of Revelation. Messages that are very relevant to the times in which we live.
This study is part of our top ten collection of most requested presentations. Now we come to the church of the last days as we will discover in the book of Revelation. I believe personally we're in the last days. I'll make a case for that. And by that I mean I believe Jesus could come for us in our lifetime.
So we want to be ready. You don't want to be a part of the church of Thyatira. You don't want to be a part of the church of Pergamos. You definitely don't want to be in the church of Sardis. But you do want to be in this church because really you choose what church you're going to go to. You decide what church you're going to be.
It's really up to you. This is the church now of Philadelphia that's alive. Look at Revelation 3 verse 7. To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, These things says He that is holy and is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts and shuts and no one opens. I know your works. I have set before you an open door and no man can shut it.
For you have a little strength and you have kept my word and you have not denied my name. Here's some takeaway truths from the church of the last days. The church we should all be a part of.
Number one. Jesus has given to us an unprecedented open door. Let me say that again. Jesus has given to us as the church today an unprecedented open door. Do you know that we have the ability for the first time ever to literally fulfill the great commission in our lifetime?
I mean think of all the technology we have at our disposal. I mean even what we're doing here at Harvest at Home and then this is on our YouTube channel. And these messages are heard on our radio broadcasts and on our website. And there's so many ways we can communicate now through films and other ways that getting the gospel to people in unexpected ways. The door here is a symbol of opportunity.
And the key is a symbol of His authority. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2.12, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel a door was opened unto me by the Lord. We should pray for these open doors.
Colossians 4. Paul says pray for us too that God will open a door and give us many opportunities to speak about Christ. So God opens doors up.
There might be an open door in your life right now with a neighbor. They were closed. Closed to the gospel.
Closed to anything spiritual. And suddenly they're open. Or you just met somebody. Or an opportunity came up. Look for open doors. They're out there. Pay attention.
Number two. God has given us enough strength to do what He has called us to do. God has given us enough strength to do what He has called us to do. We read that this church was making a comeback. In verse 8 Jesus says you have a little strength.
By the way that's not a negative criticism. It's a commendation that He is giving to this church. The picture here is of a sick person coming back to life. They're not at full health yet but they're getting there. They're out of the bed now. They're standing up again.
They're starting to move around again. This would appear to say that the church of the end times is going to experience revival. What is revival? It's returning to original condition.
What is original condition? It's the church of the first century. The church that changed the world. The church that turned the world upside down. So this last day's church of Philadelphia is coming back. They're making a comeback.
Their strength is returning. A church that is going through open doors of opportunity. He gives them a promise. And this shows this is a church of the last days. In verse 10 He promises to keep them. He promises to keep us from the great tribulation period. Verse 10 says Jesus speaking, I'll keep you from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole world to test those that dwell on the earth. Now we're all going to go through trials and tribulation in life as followers of Jesus. Jesus even said in this world you will have tribulation.
But be of good cheer I have overcome the world. But there's a difference between personal tribulation and what we call the great tribulation period. The great tribulation period is a global event. Look at verse 10. He says I'll keep you from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole world to test those that dwell on the earth.
This is a global event that will affect everybody. Secondly it's a specific period of time. Jesus calls it an hour of trial.
It's not 60 minutes. It's seven years in total. So He says I'll keep you from that. It is my firm belief that the Lord will call us home to heaven before the tribulation period begins. I believe the church will not go through the tribulation period. I don't even think the tribulation period can begin until the church is removed.
It's coming to theaters in just a few weeks. Of course it's the love story of Greg and Kathy Laurie set against the backdrop of the Jesus movement of the late 60s and early 70s. It's such an effective evangelistic film. Pastor Greg, many people know that Pastor Chuck Smith figured prominently in your story and the story of the Jesus movement in contemporary Christian music.
That's right. He's been in heaven now for almost 10 years. What do you think he would say about Jesus revolution?
Yeah, I think he would love it because it's a story of what Jesus did in a generation. It shows that Chuck was willing to leave his comfort zone. You know Chuck wasn't a fan of rock music. Chuck was just this kind of salt of the earth, hard working guy. I mean on his day off Chuck liked to build things. Chuck was a construction guy. He was a man's man, very practical. So he was pastoring this church.
It wasn't a really large church. He saw these counter culture kids doing crazy stuff, growing their hair out long, hanging out in the streets. He thought they all needed to get a haircut and get a job. But his wife Kay had a real heart for these people and was praying for them. And God brought a hippie evangelist into Chuck's life named Lonnie Frisbee. And to Chuck's eternal credit he opened his heart to this and let this young man preach in his church. And then Chuck opened his heart to these musicians that came in with their songs about God. You know we're so used to electric guitars and drum kits and all the things that we have in churches today. But back in those days in the late 60s you didn't have that in church. And this was a whole new thing and Chuck took risks and he took risks on a young guy named Craig. That's me. And he helped me get started in ministry as well.
And I wasn't the only one. He did it for a lot of young men and a lot of young women. He was a real pioneer and he was a real trailblazer. And so he's portrayed by Kelsey Grammer in a powerful performance.
Kelsey didn't try to take on the mannerisms or voice inflections of Chuck which were very distinct. But he captured the character and sense of it in an amazing way and you'll love it. And so if you know Chuck you'll say oh well you know Chuck sounded a little different but that's not the story. The story is what Chuck did and that is reflected in this film. And so people, a whole generation are going to discover the great man of faith he was and the risks he took. And the result was a spiritual awakening.
I think you're going to love this. Yeah it really is a moving film and it's a powerful evangelistic movie as well. Plan to bring someone with you who needs to meet the Lord when this film opens on February 24th in theaters across the country.
When you come out to the movies and support this film you help us tell the story of the past to a whole new generation. But more than that you just may plant the seeds of the next spiritual awakening like we saw during the Jesus movement. If you appreciate the work we do in sharing Christ in surprising new ways we hope you'll partner with us. Would you consider that? If you can make a donation right now we want to send you Pastor Greg's book called Jesus Revolution.
What a great resource to help you enjoy the movie even more. You can donate today by calling 1-800-821-3300. That's a 24-7 phone number. 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.
Or just go online to harvest.org. Well next time on A New Beginning the conclusion of Pastor Greg's study called The Seven Love Letters of Jesus to His Church. But Pastor Greg helps us wrap up today's program.
One final thought, actually two. Two things I want to say in closing picking up on what I already touched on in our message. Jesus says I've set before you an open door and no man can shut it. I'm going to challenge you to look for opportunities to start an evangelistic conversation in this coming week. Look for people to talk to about Jesus. They will happen at unexpected times with unexpected people in unexpected places.
You never know when those little doors will open up. And I would also like to pray for you as we close because we talked about being filled with the Spirit. Every one of us needs to be filled with the Spirit and to be refilled over and over again. So I would like to close with prayer.
Where we would all ask Jesus to fill us with the Spirit. Because we're told in the book of Acts you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you to be a witness to me. And so I need this power of the Spirit of my life to have the boldness and the courage to look for those open doors and start evangelistic conversations. So let me pray for you right now. Let's pray. Father we need the power of your Holy Spirit.
We fall short so often. But you've told us in Scripture it's not by might nor by power but by your Spirit says the Lord. So Lord fill us with your Holy Spirit. Even now fill every one of us with all the power we need. Give us all the gifts of the Spirit that we need. And use us to be your representatives in this dark world so we can go out and share the gospel and go through those open doors of opportunity. We commit ourselves to you again. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
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