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 e-books designed to help you grow in your faith. There's only one way to have a relationship completely free of disagreement, discomfort, and discord, and that's to have an imaginary friend.
Even then, it's not guaranteed. But seriously, when two human beings spend time with each other, things can go sideways. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie brings biblical counsel for the important relationships of our lives. He's launching a new series for all of us with questions.
It's called Am I Doing This Right? Good Insight is Ahead. This is a series about relationships. So before I get into marriage and parenting, I want to just start with a message about friendship. Because that's where it all starts, friendship.
And that applies to every one of a single married, young, old friendship. And a classic example of friendship is the story of David and Jonathan. Now we recently did a message on the life of David, but I want to look at one passage.
First Samuel 18, verses one to three. It says, after David finished talking with Saul, who would be the king, he met Jonathan, the king's son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David and Jonathan made a solemn pact with David because he loved him more than he loved himself.
I love that. There's no better example of how to have a friendship in the Bible than in the story of David and Jonathan. David, an unknown shepherd boy, meets Jonathan, the prince of Israel, the next in line to become the king. But yet God called David to be the king.
David was going to take Jonathan's place on the throne, but Jonathan understood that God had called David and supported him. A real friend. Now I'm going to give you some points about friendship if you're taking notes. Number one, we need godly friendships. We need godly friendships. At the first stage of your life you're shaped mostly by your family, but the rest of your life you're shaped mostly by your friends. You become like the friends you spend time with. You show me your friends and I'll show you your future. Godly friendships really matter.
There's an old saying quote, fear that man who fears not God. It's also been said he is your friend that pushes you closer to God. Point number two, true friends support each other through thick and thin. True friends support each other through thick and thin.
They are consistent. Proverbs 17 17 says, a friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity. A true friend can help get you through a hard time. Do you have friends like that? You're going through a hardship.
You call them, hey man, having a bad day. Could use some prayer. Could use a word of encouragement from you. Right now it's great to feel friends like that or try to be that friend for somebody else. A true friend will keep your confidence. James 1 10 says, understand this brothers and sisters. Be quick to listen.
Be slow to speak and be slow to get angry. It's good to be a listener and to share your burdens. Ecclesiastes 4 9 says this, two people are better off than one for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls the other can reach out and help but someone who falls alone is in real trouble. So true. In some ways it's easier to suffer with someone than to rejoice with them.
Let me explain. If someone you know goes through a hardship, they got bad news from a doctor, they're having problems in their marriage, they're facing this problem, they were they were laid off at work. Whatever it is you comfort them. Oh man I'm so sorry.
I'm really sorry you're having to go through this. You're trying to help them. You are suffering with those that suffer.
As the Bible tells you, you should. It's been said, success builds walls, failures build bridges. Does that make sense? See when I'm failing it's a bridge. Oh you're just like me. But all of a sudden when I'm succeeding it's like that other person may not like that. The Bible says weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice.
So let's go back to that friend that you were weeping with. They call you I've got good news. I just won the lottery. I have a hundred million dollars or I've got great news.
I just got a raise or this great thing just happened to me and you're like praise God. You know sometimes we're envious of those that have something we don't have. And it's funny who we find ourselves envious of. You don't sit around and say why can't I be as wealthy as Elon Musk or why can't I play guitar like Eric Clapton?
I don't envy them. You tend to envy those you perceive as an equal. Aristotle said and he said this to me personally. He said envy grows naturally in a relationship between equals end quote.
Interesting. Envy has been described as a small town sin. It breeds on proximity.
In other words we envy people we think if they're equal to us well why do they get that and I don't have that. I heard a story about a crab fisherman who would catch crabs and put them in his pail and he didn't have a lid on it. Someone said why why don't you put a lid on your on your pail with all those crabs they could get out.
He says oh no no problem there because when one of them tries to climb out the others reach up and pull them down. We can be like crabs can't we. Oh it's fine you know if we're equal if we're both in the same state in life but suddenly you get something that I want or something I think I deserve and now I resent you and envy you and this is what Jonathan could have felt toward David but he did not.
So it's really an amazing thing. Weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice. Point number three true friends tell each other the truth. True friends tell each other the truth. Proverbs 27 10 says the heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume.
So we all need friends that we can bounce things off of that will be honest with us right. I have this idea really bad idea don't do that. Hey I'm going to wear this tonight. Really bad outfit don't wear it.
I'm thinking this don't do that. We need friends like that. Those are true friends. Proverbs 27 6 says faithful of the wounds of a friend but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Open rebuke is better than secret love. So if a friend is really a friend they'll tell you the truth to your face. It was Oscar Wilde who said a true friend always stabs you in the front not in the back. So what about when there's a break in a friendship. We've all had people we had close friendships with at one time and then something happened. Maybe envy set in jealousy set in something happened.
We felt betrayed by them or they felt betrayed by us but whatever it is that friendship ceased or at least we weren't hanging out as much as we used to. Brings me to point number four true friends resolve their conflicts. Let me restate that true friends attempt to resolve their conflicts. Sometimes you can't resolve a conflict. The bible says as much as it is possible live at peace with all men and the implication of that is sometimes you can't live with peace with all men and women.
That's why it says as much as it is possible but at least make an attempt. Example Paul and Barnabas they too were close friends. It was Barnabas who was nicknamed the son of encouragement. That wasn't his name it was his nickname and so he was like Mr. Encouragement.
So Mr. Encouragement met Saul of Tarsus who had come to Christ. He had formerly been a Christian killer an enemy of the church but now Saul of Tarsus has become Paul and it's clear as they got on their first missionary journey together that Paul has been gifted in an extraordinary way by God.
Instead of resenting that Barnabas encouraged it and rejoiced in it and helped to cultivate it. Well one day they're out on this missionary trip and Barnabas brings along his nephew Mark and everything is going great. Then they decide to go on another trip and Barnabas wants to bring Mark again and Paul says no. Reason being Mark bailed on them in the first trip.
Mark just I don't know what the reason was exactly but he said I can't do this and so on the second trip when Barnabas wanted to bring Mark again Paul said no and they had a conflict and we think well that's bad Christians shouldn't have conflicts. No we need to work these things out. We need to talk to each other. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. 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 offering important insight on relationships today and how to work through the times of discord that often arise. You're going to have conflicts and friendships. You're going to have conflicts in marriage.
I just ran into a young couple the other day yesterday actually who are getting married and they wanted me to pray for them. I said how old are you because they look really young especially the guy. He looked like he was 15. He said how old are you he says 21. All right and I asked his fiance how old are you she said 18.
I said that was the exact age I was when I got married to my wife as well. So I talked to him a little bit and I prayed for them. But you know you're gonna have conflicts in marriage and if a couple comes to me and says we want to get married will you marry us. I'll say well perhaps let's talk about this a little bit and then I'll ask them have you guys had a disagreement yet.
Oh no we love each other too much. I'll say get out of my office. I mean go have a fight. I don't mean a fight.
I don't mean a physical fight. But go of a disagreement and learn how to resolve your disagreement. You're going to have breakdowns in communication and marriage as well as in friendships as well. I read that when divorced couples were asked why their marriage failed 86 percent said deficient communication. Deficient communication.
It's when there's a communication breakdown. We're not talking to each other. We're talking past each other. We're talking about each other. We're not listening to what the other person is saying.
Proverbs 18 13 says only a fool answers a matter before he's heard it. So hear out your friend or your mate and let them state their case and don't be reloading with your response. Which we often do in an argument or we talk over them. Listen to them. Try to hear what they're saying to you. Then offer your defense your rebuttal or your agreement. Avoid raising your voice and if you feel anger sometimes the best thing you can do is literally walk away.
Because you might say something you regret saying or doing something even worse. Listen to what they are saying. Don't escalate it by yelling, insulting, or calling that person names and if you're married let me say this. Never fight in front of your kids. Never fight in front of your kids.
They're watching and it's impacting them in a very negative way. So why do you get so quiet in here? Do you like to fight in front of your kids or something? I don't agree with that. Now once you've had your disagreement and each person has stated their view now it's time to find a resolution. Ephesians 4 26 says don't let the sun go down in your anger. In other words don't go to sleep mad at each other. Fight to resolve not to win. If you go into it to win you lose even if you win. Let me say that again. Fight or disagree to resolve not to win.
If you go in it to win you lose even if you win. You want to resolve it. It's been said the first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.
I like that. So if you've had a conflict with your friend, with your spouse, with your parents, with your kids, try to sort it out. Try to resolve it and try to say these words. Words you should be willing to say every day starting with please forgive me.
I love you. I'm sorry. And it was my fault. What planet are you from? I'm from the planet of let's resolve conflicts because we spend way too much fighting. I've never seen so much fighting in my lifetime everywhere. Not just political fighting.
That's always been there. But even that has been ratcheted up to another level. But fighting among friends. Fighting among Christians. Fighting among churches over minutia.
Listen to this people. The devil is in the details of that. The Bible says which is Hebrew for can I get two falafels instead of one.
No it's Hebrew for behold how good and pleasant it is for the brothers to dwell together in unity. Let's try to find that unity. Right now there's somebody you're having a fight with.
Some of you. Some of you are in a conflict with your parents or a conflict with your kids or a conflict with your spouse. You gave each other the silent treatment coming into church today.
I'll know if you look at each other right now. I see it. I see. I see. I saw that. I see you here by the way.
This comes as a shock to people. I can see you. You see me. I see you. When you fall asleep I see. When you yawn I notice and it hurts. You need to apologize.
Maybe I was being boring. But no we want to resolve these things. Coming back to Paul and Barnabas they did eventually reconcile and I love it because in one of his epistles Paul writes hey get Mark and bring him to me because he's helpful to me in my ministry. So Mark the guy who deserted him. Later Paul's writing to Timothy hey get that kid over here. Love that kid. He's really helpful to me. So they got it resolved. Last point.
Number five. Jesus is the perfect friend. Jesus is the perfect friend. Jesus said greater love is no man than this than he lay down his life for his friends and Christ did that for us. In John 15 15 that's our second passage.
Jesus says I no longer call you slaves because a master doesn't confide in his slave. You are my friends because I've told you everything the father has told me. He's the perfect friend.
An amazing thing. God wants to be our friend. He wants to open his heart to us. He wants to tell us his secrets so certainly you can tell him yours. And by the way he knows it already. He knows all things. You can bear your heart to him.
You can call out to him. We are friends of God through Jesus Christ. And Jesus also said this in John 15 14. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you to do. You know it's easy for us to say well I'm a friend of God and I have this great friendship with Jesus. Awesome.
That's great. But here's what Jesus says. You're my friend if you do whatsoever I command you to do.
He didn't say whatsoever you're comfortable with or whatsoever you personally agree with or whatsoever you find easy but just whatsoever. If your friend Jesus tells you to do something if you're really his friend you should do it. Do you have this friendship with God? Again we read in Proverbs let me apply it to Christ.
Now there is a friend that sits closer than a brother. Jesus will be that friend to you but he's more than a friend. He's the Savior. He saves us from our sins and he's not just our Savior. He's our Lord and he's our God and he longs for friendship with you.
So let me close with this. Maybe I'm talking to somebody right now that doesn't have this relationship with God. And and you see God is a distant deity.
Someone that can't really be known when the very opposite is the case. God can be known. God wants to be known. God longs for this relationship with us. God wants to reveal his heart and his secrets to you. The question is will you open your heart to him?
Will you let him come into your life? Jesus demonstrated his love for you and his friendship that he desires to have with you by dying on the cross for your sin 2,000 years ago. Again as Jesus said greater love has no man than this and he laid on his life for his friends. He died for us when we were his enemies not when we were his friends.
We were living outside of his will. Breaking his commandments but he showed this love for us and he stands at the door of each of our lives and he knocks and says the fool hear his voice and open the door he will come in. And let me close by extending an invitation for any of you wherever you are. If you have never asked Jesus Christ to come into your life to be your Savior and Lord you can do it right here right now. If you want this friendship with God. If you want this relationship with God why don't you just pray this prayer as we close now.
Let's bow our heads. In fact let's all just pray it together along with those that are praying it for the first time. Just pray these words. Lord Jesus I want friendship with you.
I want to know you in a personal way. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sin and rising again from the dead. Now come into my life and be my Lord and be my God and be my Savior and be my friend. Thank you for hearing this prayer. In Jesus name I pray.
Amen. Today on A New Beginning an important prayer from Pastor Greg Laurie with those making a change in their relationship with the Lord. And if you've just prayed along with Pastor Greg and are asking the Lord to forgive your sins for the first time today well we want to be the first to say welcome to the family of God. And we'd like to help you get started in living the Christian life. Let us send you our New Believers Growth Packet. It'll help you begin building a solid foundation for your new faith. Ask for the New Believers Growth Packet when you call 1-800-821-3300. You can call anytime that's 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org. Well hopefully you heard all of Pastor Greg's study today and the first part of the presentation last time.
If not catch what you missed by going online to harvest.org and looking for the title You've Got a Friend. Well we're speaking with author Randy Alcorn today about his book called Heaven for Kids. Randy I love the fact that the table of contents includes a lot of the questions that you answer.
It's a question and answer format throughout the book. Right. To what extent should children's understanding of heaven be sort of a progressive explanation? By that I mean you know at certain ages it's best to give them a basic explanation and then let their understanding grow as they get a little older.
Yes I agree with that. I think that all education of children and of course we're the parents of the primary educators and grandparents can have a huge role in that as well but I think that you always start with and Greg knows this well you do audience analysis. You know where are these people that I'm speaking to what do they know or what do they believe and maybe they believe some things that aren't true or whatever and you just need to know what vocabulary they can understand you know that sort of thing and I think this the way it is with kids as kids get older their vocabulary increases their awareness of the world increases more and so if you have a teenager they may ask you a question about will there be sex in heaven but that's not what a six-year-old or an eight-year-old is going to ask. They'll be asking about something else and so it's you just I think sometimes we might move too quickly to things that are hard to wrap their minds around so what I tried to do in writing Heaven for Kids was look at all the things in my Big Heaven book and all things that I didn't even have room for even in that big book and then try to figure out okay let's distill it down to the things that kids target audience 8 to 12 but knowing younger kids and older kids and even adults will read this as well and what is there that I can say to them that's the basics and the central stuff that they care about or are asking about right now or will soon. Excellent these are insights from author Randy Alcorn about how to share the truth of God's word specifically on the topic of heaven with the little ones at different ages and we want to send this book to you for your gift of any size as we continue to preach the gospel and teach God's word to people here in A New Beginning. Yeah it's such a practical book and you'll find it so handy that all the questions are listed right up front in the table of contents and we'll be happy to send this important resource to you to thank you for your investment in keeping these insights coming your way each day here on A New Beginning so contact us today for your copy of Heaven for Kids you can call us at 1-800-821-3300 that's a 24 7 phone number 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org. Well next time Pastor Greg continues his new series Am I Doing This Right? We'll tackle the subjects of singleness and marriage. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a Harvest Partner at harvest.org.
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