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What Is God Like? | Modeling a Christian Life

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
March 10, 2023 3:00 am

What Is God Like? | Modeling a Christian Life

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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March 10, 2023 3:00 am

The Bible tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. It says to put on the mind of Christ. The Lord wants us to, “Be holy as I am holy.” It’s our thoughts, our motives, and our actions that set us apart as believers. It helps us do our job as ambassadors of Christ. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie takes us to an Old Testament story that shows us how to be a channel through which the love of God can flow to others. A message of encouragement from the life of David.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. For more ways to deepen and challenge your spiritual walk, enroll in Pastor Greg's free online courses.

Sign up at Well, he said, follow me, follow Christ. He will not disappoint. The Bible tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. It says to put on the mind of Christ. The Lord wants us to be holy as I am holy. It's our thoughts, our motives, and our actions that set us apart as believers. It helps us do our job as ambassadors of Christ. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie takes us to an Old Testament story that shows us how to be a channel through which the love of God can flow to others.

A message of encouragement from the life of David. So I heard about a little girl that got out her crayons and a piece of paper and announced to mom and dad, I'm going to draw a picture of God. Mom said, honey, nobody knows what God looks like.

And the little girl said they will when I'm done. So what is God like? What is your concept of God? Is he a smiling God? A frowning God?

Does he look at us with approval or disapproval? You know, it's interesting that in the Bible, on more than one occasion, the almighty is referred to as father. So we immediately make a connection to our earthly father. Now, maybe you had a fun dad, a warm dad, an affectionate dad, so that gives you a very great concept of your father in heaven.

But maybe your father was aloof or uncommunicative or even worse, he was absent and even worse than that, he was abusive. And so you think God is that way. Look, regardless of how great or how far short your earthly father fell or falls, we should not look at God that way.

We need to look at what the Bible says about God as our father in heaven. And one of the best New Testament illustrations is given to us by Jesus himself in the story of the prodigal son. There's a father with two sons. One son goes astray, ruins his life, drags the family name to the gutter, but decides to return home. And the father sees him at a distance and runs to him and throws his arms around him and kisses him and hugs him and says, this my son who was dead is alive again. He who was lost is found.

And then they had a killer barbecue, okay? So Jesus is presenting to us a picture of God as a father who loves us and misses us when we're out of fellowship with him and longs for our return. But in the Old Testament, we have a picture of God that's very similar, especially in the story before us now. We're gonna look at David and Mephibosheth. So King Saul and his son Jonathan die on the battlefield. Severely wounded, Saul commits suicide, falling on his own sword. So one day David is hanging around the palace and he says, you know, is there anyone left of the house of Saul?

Are there any descendants? And here's what happened next. A guy named Zebes called in. Zebes used to work for Saul. Second Samuel, chapter nine, verse two.

I'm reading from the New Living Translation. Hey, are you Zebes, the king asked. Yes, I am, Zebes replied. Then the king asked him, is there anyone still alive from Saul's family?

If so, I want to show God's goodness to them in any way I can. Zebes replied, yes, one of Jonathan's sons is still alive but he's crippled. Where is he, the king asked.

He's in Lodobar. Zebes told him at the home of Makar, son of Amiel. So David sent for him and brought him from Makar's house. And his name was Mephibosheth and he was Jonathan's son and Saul's grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low in great fear and said, I am your servant.

David said, oh, don't be afraid. I've asked you to come so I can be kind to you because of my vow to your father, Jonathan. I'll give you all of the land that once belonged to your grandfather, Saul, that you may live with me here in the palace. Mephibosheth fell to the ground before the king and said, should the king show such kindness to a dead dog like me? But Mephibosheth ate regularly with David as though he were one of his own sons.

We'll stop there. Isn't that a beautiful story? So Jonathan and David were good friends. And Jonathan knew things were not going to end well for his father and even himself. He said, David, you got to make a promise to me, buddy. Down the road, take care of my descendants, treat them with kindness. David said, I'll do it. And so now he's keeping this promise and is seeking out someone from the House of Saul, a descendant, and it's Mephibosheth. Now, Mephibosheth was technically next in line to be the king. See, the king is gone. The prince, Jonathan, is gone. That means Mephibosheth would have been the rightful king of Israel. But now he is in hiding and David is showing kindness to him.

Mephibosheth was only five years old when he found out that his father and grandfather were killed. And there was a nurse in charge of him and she was running probably to get him to safety because she was afraid for his life and she fell and dropped the young prince. And now he is disabled. He has lost the use of his feet, a disability he carried throughout his life. He had been dropped in life.

It wasn't his fault, but it happened to him. And I think there's a lot of people who have been dropped in life. I feel like I was. Maybe you feel like you were, where things happened to you as a child that weren't your fault, but you were not dealt a good hand and you had a rough upbringing. But the good news is, is God specializes in taking those who have been dropped in life and picking them up again, right? Mephibosheth certainly was dropped in life.

You know, maybe as he grew up, he's an older man now or a younger man, but he's an adult. He's probably thinking this just isn't fair. It's all, it's all the fault of David. You know, David did this to me. David shouldn't even be on the throne. I should be on the throne. Maybe he had been taught his whole life to hate David, but the thing is, he didn't know David.

Now for the first time, he meets this legendary king and I love what happens. It says in 2 Samuel 9.6, he was afraid, but David said, don't be afraid. I've asked you to come so I can be kind to you. Why are you a Christian? Why am I a Christian?

I am a Christian because I've responded to the love and the grace of God. The Bible says it's the kindness of God that leads me to repentance. Maybe it was modeled for me through someone that loved the Lord. Maybe someone shared the gospel with me directly, but it was that love and that grace and that mercy that the Lord has that drew me to him and that's what happened to Mephibosheth. You know, I think there's a lot of people today who like Mephibosheth are afraid of God. Let's think of David being a representative of Jesus.

Let's think of Mephibosheth as being a representative of people in general. They're afraid of God. They don't want to approach God. They have a wrong view of God. They think God is out there to make their lives miserable.

A. W. Tozer said, quote, nothing twists or deforms his soul more than a low or unworthy conception of God, end quote. That's why it's so important in our homes as Christians that we raise our children right in the way of the Lord. It's not just telling your kids what to do. It's modeling for the children what it means to be a follower of Jesus. You know, sometimes there are Christians that are hyper legalistic and I would say they major on minors.

You know, their kids are raised. They can't watch cartoons. All they can watch is Veggie Tales.

That's it. Never allowed to watch a movie unless it's some Christian film. You know, only Christian films. They can't listen to any music but Christian music and that can be tormenting at times because there is bad Christian music out there. Let me say that on the record.

There's good Christian music and there's bad Christian music too. There's lots of restrictions. No sugar. No fun. Hour long devotions before bed every night out of the book of Leviticus. Wait, hold on. And then one day your kid gets a little older and they rebel and you go, what's wrong?

We raised them in the way of the Lord. Eh, kind of. Maybe you did. But maybe you need to just chill a little bit. Then one day these kids rebel.

You find them strung out on sugar watching the Simpsons and listening to AC DC. I mean, where have we gone wrong? You know, I'm not saying I did everything right though I did.

No, I'm not. But I didn't want to raise religious children. I wanted to raise young men who knew the Lord and loved the Lord. I wanted to, I wanted them to have fun and enjoy life. And so I wanted to enter their world and let them be exposed to other things and prepare them to have a Christian worldview based on their own relationship with Jesus Christ.

Right? So both of my sons had their time of rebellion. They returned to the Lord. As you know, Christopher's in heaven now.

Jonathan is here as a pastor. So it all took. Thank God. But you know, it kind of comes down to like, let me illustrate with floaties. You know what floaties are?

Put them on the little kids. I'm against floaties. Why? First of all, they look really stupid.

Okay. But there's another reason. You can give a child a false sense of security. I never had my kids wear floaties.

I taught them how to swim instead because if they perchance fell into a pool, I want them to know how to get to the side of the pool and get out. Because you can be wearing floaties your whole life. You're in your thirties. You got the floaties.

Hey, how's it going? Oh, my floatie. You need to be taught how to swim. You need to be taught how to live in the real world. You can raise your kids in a Christian bubble.

But one day they're going to leave the bubble. And this is why Moses said that as we teach our children over in Deuteronomy 11, we should talk about the Lord when you're at home, when you're on the road, when you're going to bed, when you're getting up. You integrate it into their lives. You see, the problem was Mephibosheth didn't know David. But once he met David, everything changed.

And I love verse 11. He ate regularly with David as though he were one of his own sons. David's saying, not only are you not living in a lot of bar anymore, you're coming into the palace, boy. And now you're going to be treated like royalty and you're going to sit at my table and eat as though you were a member of my own family. Is that not exactly what God does for each of us? He brings us into his family and he invites us to his table.

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 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 Well, we're learning some good lessons today from the encounter between David and Saul's grandson, Mephibosheth. Today's message title, What is God Like? What are the takeaway truths from this story of David and Mephibosheth? Number one, don't let another person form your view of God. Don't let another person form your view of God. Perhaps Mephibosheth allowed the prejudice and bias of others to keep him from David. And in the same way, there are some that are kept from a relationship with God because of what others say and do.

Others who claim to be his representatives. If you've met a hypocritical Christian who has disappointed you, let me apologize right now and let me add this. Get over it. Get over it. Well, the church is full of hypocrites.

Yeah, there's always room for one more. Come on. I'm not excusing hypocrisy. I'm not justifying hypocrisy.

I'm simply saying whenever human beings are involved, there be hypocrisy. But Jesus did not say, follow my people. He said, follow me.

Follow Christ. He will not disappoint. I'll disappoint you.

Rarely. But no, I will. I know. You'll disappoint somebody else. But Jesus will never disappoint.

And by the way, when you stand before God one day, that hold there are too many hypocrites in the church excuse will not hold water. Number two, forgive your enemies if they deserve it or not. Forgive your enemies if they deserve it or not. David could have engaged in payback big time. He could have killed Abner, the general of King Saul. He could have killed Mephibosheth, the rightful heir to the throne or at least the one under traditional reign who would have taken the throne.

David was a rightful heir but instead he forgave. The story is told of President Abraham Lincoln who was once criticized for his attitude toward enemies because after the Civil War ended, he wanted to forgive the people that fought in the rebel army. He wanted to bring unity back to the United States. And someone said to President Lincoln, why do you always make friends of your enemies? You should instead destroy them. And Lincoln responded, am I not destroying my enemies when I make them my friends?

That good, that's right. If I turn an enemy into a friend, they're not an enemy anymore, are they? Number three, leave the past in the past.

Leave the past in the past. Listen, if anyone could have felt sorry for himself, it's David. I mean he was just watching a sheep one day. He didn't ask to be the king. He didn't ask for the position God gave him. He wasn't even acknowledged by his father. Ultimately he was betrayed by his own wife. He was hunted down by his father-in-law.

You think you have a bad father-in-law? Saul wanted to kill David and he could have even felt that God had abandoned him. He spent a lot of time running from Saul but David was not bitter.

He was better and he only grew closer to the Lord. And so he just left the past in the past. Here's the thing about things that happened to you in life.

Let me say this to you who are younger. There's gonna be things that happen to you that don't make sense. There's gonna be things that happen that seem really bad but one day you're gonna wake up and be old like me and you're gonna look back on those bad things and you're gonna say yeah maybe they weren't as bad as I thought they were. In fact with the passing of time you might even say you know that thing I once thought was bad was actually kind of good because it produced this in my life right.

So you got to wait and give time to these things. That's why Ecclesiastes 3-11 says God has made everything beautiful for its own time. People cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end.

So leave the past in the past and be confident that everything that is happening to you has been either allowed or done directly by God and it will ultimately be used to make you more like Jesus and it will be used for God's glory and your ultimate good. A couple of other points before I conclude because I see a perfect picture here of Jesus represented by David. David out of sheer love for Jonathan demonstrated grace to his hurting son and in the same way God loved us not because we deserved his love but in grace he extended his love to us. He sought us out. Number two Mephibosheth had done nothing to deserve this and he could repay nothing. In fact he was hiding from the king and the same is true of us.

We were running from God trying to hide from God sinning directly against God but he reached out to us and lastly Mephibosheth was adopted as a son and invited to eat at the king's table and when you become a Christian you become part of the royal family. The ultimate royal family and you are a child of the king. You're a prince. You're a princess. You're a son. You're a daughter. You're invited to sit at the table with Jesus.

Jesus himself said behold I stand at the door knock of any men hear my voice and open the door I will come in and have a meal with him and with him and the idea is we sit down at the table with the Lord as one of his children. We have his full attention and we have his love and he has a beautiful plan for our lives. Listen don't let other people form your opinion of God. God loves you. God has a plan for you. Even if you've been dropped in life God can pick you up and bring something beautiful out of that wreckage and that rubble.

The Bible says he brings beauty for ashes. He'll do that for you but you must come to him. Don't run from him. Don't hide from him. Come to him.

He welcomes you. Again coming back to the picture that Jesus gave us of the father. He longs for your return and when the prodigal son came to his senses and returned home the father ran to him and beat him for 20 minutes.

No that's not in the Bible. He threw his arms around him and he kissed him again and again saying this my son who is dead is alive again. Maybe there's somebody here that has been hiding from God. Maybe there's somebody here that's been running from God or you have a false concept of God or you think God is against you or maybe I'm talking to somebody who's been dropped in life. Bad things have happened to you and you're mad about it and you've even shaked an angry fist in the face of God and said it's your fault. Listen I'm sorry what's happened to you but God can change it for you but you must come to him and believe in him. Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sin.

That's the ultimate demonstration of love. For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. I already quoted this statement of Jesus where he says he stands at the door and he knocks and if he'll hear his voice and open the door he'll come in. Only you can open the door to Jesus. He's there ready to forgive you but you need to say Lord come into my life.

Forgive me of my sin. I want to enter into this relationship with you. Let's all bow our heads and pray.

Everybody praying. Father I ask you to speak to any person here any person wherever they are. If they don't have this relationship with you yet let it begin now. Let them respond to your love. Let them come to Jesus and believe and be forgiven of their sins regardless of the hand they've been dealt in life.

Even if they've been dropped in life you can pick them up. Help them to come to you and believe we pray. Amen. An important prayer from Pastor Greg Laurie and if you feel the Lord speaking to you today and want to make a change in your relationship with him Pastor Greg will help you do that before today's edition of A New Beginning wraps up so stay tuned. Over to you Pastor Greg. I'm speaking with Randy Alcorn and he has written a book called Heaven for Kids that we're offering to our listeners for their gift of any size. You know there's some misconceptions about heaven. I've heard it said in fact it was said to me after our son Christopher went to be with the Lord 14 years ago well God must have needed another angel in heaven. We don't really become angels when we get to heaven.

Maybe you could address that. Are we different than angels? Do people become angels?

How does that all work? Right that is a huge misconception and there's one verse when taken out of context that I think people have used to support that idea and that's when Jesus said that in the resurrection we will not be married or given in marriage but we will be like the angels. Okay that's just one specific sense in which we'll be like the angels and in terms of not being married but he's not saying we'll be angels. There's many aspects in which we are like angels and we're intelligent beings and communicative and all of that but they're not made in the image of God. We're not angels. Never in the bible do you have people with wings and hails around their head and you know all of that.

People are different. We are God's image bearers. We will be that for all eternity so you don't become an angel when you die. If somebody says well oh yeah my loved one died and now they're my guardian angel that's that's just not biblical. It's wonderful what we will be we will be redeemed human beings forever and we will get to know angels and probably some who were our guardian angels.

I think Nancy told me just within a few months of dying my wife Nancy that she said you know what I can't wait to meet my guardian angel or any angels that were assigned to me that will have such great stories to tell me of what what happened behind the scenes and what nearly happened that they rescued me from. That's right. Well those are just some of the insights you'll find in this book that we're offering you this month for your gift of any size to Harvest Ministries and our radio broadcast in the beginning. It's called Heaven for Kids written by that guy you were just listening to.

His name is Randy Alcorn. You're gonna love this book. Yeah you will and what a great resource to help your kids or your grandkids understand what's waiting for them in eternity especially if they're asking those questions especially if a friend or loved one has recently passed away. What an important tool to help you give them perspective and we'll be glad to send you Heaven for Kids to thank you for your investment in keeping these studies coming to you each day. Thanks so much for your generosity.

We are completely listener supported. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. We are here around the clock to take your call 1-800-821-3300 or go online to Well Pastor Greg if somebody listening right now knows they need to ask the Lord to forgive them of their sins could you help them with that right now? You know what Dave I'd love to do that. It's an amazing thing to me that over the years I've heard so many stories of people who have come to know Christ listening to this broadcast and they'll say things like I prayed that prayer with you at the end of the program. One guy wrote me and said I pulled my car over to the side of the road and prayed that prayer and Christ came into my life. Just incredible and I'd like to lead you in that same prayer. Look I don't have some super special prayer. It's just a basic prayer based on scriptural principles of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. I mean if we want to get real technical the only sinner's prayer if you will and we often call this prayer a sinner's prayer the only real sinner's prayer in the Bible is a guy who just prayed God be merciful to me a sinner. So I'm going to lead you in a prayer similar to that but this is a prayer where you will be acknowledging your need for Jesus and putting your faith in him. So listen if you want to go to heaven when you die if you want to know that you are a child of God if you want the Lord to forgive you of your sins just pray these words if you would. Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner and I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from that sin but I know that you died on the cross of Calvary for my sin and rose again from the dead so forgive me Lord I choose to follow you from this moment forward I want you to be my Savior I want you to be my friend I want you to be my God thank you for hearing my prayer and answering my prayer in Jesus name I ask this amen. Now I want to help you start growing spiritually so I have something to send you at no charge it's my gift to you it's called the new believers packet and in it is a copy of the new testament in a very friendly understandable translation called the new living translation it also has some notes that I wrote hundreds of notes actually that will encourage you in this commitment you've made these notes will answer a lot of the questions you probably have right now and there's some other materials on this packet as well so order your copy of the new believers packet immediately and thanks for giving me the opportunity to lead you in that prayer and I wanted to be the first to say to you welcome to the family of God yeah let me pass along our contact information so you can get that free new believers growth packet just call us at 1-800-821-3300 we're here 24 7 to take your call that's 1-800-821-3300 or go online to and click on no god well next time good news for anyone who's ever failed ever sinned pastor greg points out that god is a god of second chances join us here on a new beginning with pastor and bible teacher greg lorry 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
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-10 05:17:04 / 2023-03-10 05:27:55 / 11

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