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 harvest.org. When God looks at you, he doesn't just see you for what you are. He sees you for what you will become. He sees your potential.
We can think about the present and even think about the past. Pastor Greg Laurie points out God knows what's in your future because he's been there. He doesn't see things the way you see things. You know, we see failure. God sees potential. You see a blank canvas. God sees a finished painting.
You see a mess. God sees a message. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace how sweet the sound. Again you hear when the angels are singing. This is the day, the day when life begins. Many people remember Polaroid cameras.
You'd look through the viewfinder, snap a picture, pull the film out of the back of the camera, and wait for the picture to develop before your eyes. Now the photographer always knew what was coming because he saw what was in his viewfinder, but it was a surprise to everyone else. Well today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie reminds us God knows what's developing in your life.
He's already seen it, and so we need to trust that his plan is better than ours. Now in our last message in Romans we are introduced to three important words that every Christian should understand. They're justification, redemption, and propitiation. What is justification? Justification means that God has forgiven you of your sin and in the place of your sin he has put the righteousness of Christ into your account.
One way it's been defined is just as if it never had happened. Number two, redemption means a price has been paid for your sin. And now this tricky word propitiation. It means to appease the wrath of. To appease the wrath of. So God had his righteous judgment. He poured it out not on you, not on me, though he deserved it, but instead he poured it out on Jesus. So Jesus Christ appeased the wrath of God.
You could say God took his own medicine, so to speak, as Jesus drank of the cup. So Paul's conclusion is there's nothing we can do to earn or deserve this. Well now he's addressing the law-keeping religious Jewish person.
The Jewish person that says look I'm one of God's chosen people, which is true. God established a covenant with us, which is also true. We confirm that covenant through circumcision.
That's right. And we have the law. So we don't really need to come through Jesus. We come in our own way. And Paul is saying no. You come through Jesus. Those Gentiles, those non-Jews, they come through Jesus to God.
But even you guys with all of your benefits still have to come through Jesus Christ. Well they were not getting this. So he's playing it out. So Romans chapter 4 read verses one to three. This is the New Living Translation. Abraham was humanly speaking the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God's way. But the Scripture tells us Abraham believed God and God credited to him as righteousness because of his faith. And this is really now a model of how to hang on to your faith when things are really hard. Look at Romans 4 16. Therefore the promise comes by faith so that it may be by grace, it may be guaranteed to all of Abraham's offspring not only to those of us who are of the law but to those who are having the faith of Abraham. He's the father of us all because God has made him a father to many nations.
I mean think about this. The Lord said to Abraham, first he gave him the name Abram. Abram. And you know what that means? Exalted father. And he had no kids.
You think anyone ever made fun of him? Hey exalted father. How is it going? It is going good. How many kids you have now exalted father?
None. Oh right. Ok. And then God changes his name from Abram to Abraham which means father of many nations.
So now it is an even bigger name. And still he didn't have a son. But here is the point. When God looks at you He doesn't just see you for what you are. He sees you for what you will become. He sees your potential.
He doesn't see things the way you see things. You know we see in Abram. God sees in Abraham. You see failure. God sees potential. You see a blank canvas. God sees a finished painting. You see a mess. God sees a message. So He can look at you and say, Abraham it is going to happen.
Count on it. He says, I am going to get you through this and I am going to bring these changes about you. You say, but I don't see anything Lord.
It is still the same. He says, I know. But it will happen. So you can stand on what His Word says. Point number two. Despite his feelings and his circumstances Abraham gave glory to God.
Let me say that again. Despite his feelings and his circumstances Abraham gave glory to God. Verse 20. He brought glory to God. Abraham gave thanks before he had the answer to his prayer.
Can you do that? You say, well Greg I don't have a lot to give thanks for this year. Excuse me. I assume you are alive because you just said that. Which means God has given you life. God has given you your thoughts. So you have something to be thankful for.
Do you have salvation? Well we are off to a roll here. Ok. Now you start adding things and start counting your blessings and there are many. Yes I know. But I have this problem over here. And I have this unresolved situation over there. Ok.
I understand that. But I give thanks to the Lord. What does the Bible say? Give thanks to the Lord when you feel good.
No it doesn't say that. Nor does it say give thanks to the Lord when circumstances are good. Now what it says is give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever. That is why I give thanks. Because God is good. So even if things aren't going well don't forget to say thank you. Abraham said thank you and gave glory to God before he had the answer to his prayer. And so this is an amazing thing.
I mean he is 100 years old. And there is no hint of a child in his future but still he gives God glory. And what happens when we by faith give thanks to God despite our circumstances?
Answer. Your faith will grow stronger. Look at verse 20. Abraham never wavered by believing God's promises. In fact his faith grew stronger.
And in this he brought glory to God. Do you want your faith to grow? Let me ask you a question. How many of you want your faith to grow? Raise your hand. Ok. Hate to break this to you. You just said, Lord I want some trials in my life.
Can we redo that? We have a little group that gets together before our first service starts. A bunch of volunteers.
We have so many wonderful volunteers here at Harvest. They help you in so many ways every single day. They are helping you find your seat. They are ministering to your children. Helping you park your car.
So many things that they do. And so they get together and we have a little time of prayer and worship. And someone was asked the question specifically what are you thankful to God for today? And she said, I am thankful to God that I am going through a trial.
Who says that? She did. And then she said, because Job says when you have tried me I will come forth as gold. Now there is a lady that understands why God allows trials in your life. We want faith to grow in the sunshine and the good times.
And it does to some degree. But real faith grows in the valleys. When the storm clouds are forming. When things are not making sense.
And why does it grow? Because we hang on to God. And why do we hang on to God? Because we have nowhere else to go.
And by the way that is not a bad place to be. So Abraham was hanging on to the Lord. And his faith was not wavering.
Listen. Faith doesn't mean you check your brains at the door. Christians use logic. Christians think things through.
And most importantly we think things through biblically. Faith is not opposed to reason but sometimes it is opposed to feelings and appearances. I am not going to let my emotions rule me.
I am not even going to let circumstances rule me. I am going to say I still have faith regardless of that. Listen faith is not the absence of thinking. It is focused thinking on God's Word. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. It's a joy to hear when these studies have truly impacted lives.
Listen to these comments from one of our listeners. Hi Pastor Greg. I wanted to tell you that after reading your Tell Someone book my husband and I started a new ministry called the Good News Barbecue. We live in Ohio and have been doing a free Good News Barbecue and telling people about Jesus and it's because of you. We've been making a difference in people's lives and seeing God working and changing hearts. I just want to say thank you so much.
You put fire in my heart and we have been on fire for Jesus because of you. Thank you. If you've had your life changed because of the Ministry of Harvest would you let Pastor Greg know?
Just drop him an email. Greg at harvest dot org. Again that's Greg at harvest dot o-r-g. Well we're learning some important lessons today from the faith of Abraham and Pastor Greg's message don't stop believing.
Let's continue now. Point number three. God overlooked Abraham's lapses of faith. God overlooked Abraham's lapses of faith. Verse 21. He was fully convinced God is able to do whatever he promised and because of Abraham's faith God counted him as righteous. Underline that phrase fully convinced.
Man that is generous. Fully convinced. Wait this is the New Testament. The New Testament is saying he was fully convinced and he never wavered.
Amazing. Let's go back to the Old Testament here for a moment and let's look at the story. Wait.
Never wavered? What about when you lied about your wife Sarah two times and said she was your sister? What about that time you went down to Egypt when you weren't supposed to go there?
Hey what about this and what about that? He had his lapses of faith you see. But the point is in the New Testament that is not mentioned.
And why is that? Because this is about justification and God does not see you for what you worry. He sees you for what you are now in Christ and that past is behind you and it is forgiven. That is the difference. But he did have his moments.
In fact at one point he took things into his own hands and created a big mess. Sarah came to him and said honey you know I am not seeing this having a child thing but I have this handmade and maybe you would like to go in and be with her. Hagar.
And you could conceive a child with her and that could be the fulfillment of God's promise. Abraham is like ok let's get going. Wait. What? Really? Yeah. I like that idea. And sure enough he went in and had sexual relations with Hagar and she got pregnant.
She conceived and had a son and his name was Ishmael. So we sorted it all out. God don't worry about it.
We have got it covered down here. We found a solution. That was not God's solution and that was not what God wanted to do. And by the way they had a lot of conflicts as a result of that and we still have conflicts to this day because of that.
God still was going to send his answer to the prayer and that of course would be Isaac. So don't stress out when things aren't going quickly enough. And sometimes we will have lapses of faith and we feel like we are some kind of a failure. Everybody has lapses of faith.
Everybody. There are people you look up to. Oh they have such great faith. They have lapses.
I know them all. Trust me they do. And I include myself. We all do. We all need encouragement. We all have moments. Oh I don't know if this is going to work.
What am I going to do. Amen. We are like that. We are human beings.
We all have those moments. Remember when the church was praying for the deliverance of Peter from prison. And that is because James had already been put to death by King Herod. So the church went into intense prayer for Peter's deliverance. And while they are in a house praying for him to get out of jail there is a knock at the door.
A girl named Rhoda answers it and there stands Peter. And she didn't believe it was Peter. The point is they prayed for something and when God answered their prayer they couldn't believe it actually happened. They had their moments of doubt.
I like that one man who had the child in need. And Jesus said, if you believe this will happen. And he said, Lord I believe.
But then he added this P.S. Help my unbelief. Listen you just come to God with as much faith as you have. Don't beat yourself up over the fact that you don't have super faith. You just come with the faith you have and believe God. Bringing me to my final point.
Number four. Abraham put his total faith in God despite the cost. He put his total faith in God despite the cost.
Verse 17. Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Well Sarah finally did get pregnant. And she did bring forth that child and his name was Isaac. And guess what Isaac means? Laughter. Why? Because that young boy brought a lot of joy to his mom and dad.
The house was filled with so much joy. That is why it was so hard when the Lord came to Abraham and said, Abraham. Abraham.
Take your son. Your only son whom you love and offer him as a sacrifice to me. As the old man and his boy made their way up to Mount Moriah. Isaac asked, father. And Abraham replied, yes my son. He said, father I see the fire and I see the wood. Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?
Abraham replied, God will provide himself a burnt offering. You know sometimes in religious literature when you see the image of Abraham and Isaac, Isaac is just a little boy. But the reality is Isaac was a young man at this point. So he could have said, hey dad you know I think I get the idea of where this thing is going and I am not liking it.
And I am thinking since you are like what like 130 or whatever. You are so old. Why don't we sacrifice you.
Ok. The very fact that Isaac understood what was about to happen and was willing to die is a perfect picture of what would happen years later when God did the same thing in the same area. When He sent His son.
His only son whom He loved. What did Jesus say in John 3 16? For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son. See at the last minute a reprieve came and Abraham did not take the life of Isaac. But when Jesus went to the cross to die in our place no last minute reprieve was given. The father took his judgment and poured it on Christ as though He had committed all of those sins so He could treat us as if we had never committed those sins. And Jesus died there for us voluntarily. Just as Isaac was willing to go along with the game plan of his father Jesus submitted to the will of the father and no one took His life from Him.
He laid it down of His own accord. And why did He do this? Because He loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. Yes God can make all things new.
Look at verse 17 again. God who brings the dead back to life and creates new things out of nothing. See Abraham figured hey even if Isaac dies God can resurrect him. God gave him to me. It is in God's hands. Well God did bring Christ back to life.
He rose from the dead three days later. And I love this statement where He says He creates new things out of nothing. Is your life a mess right now? I am telling you turn it over to Jesus Christ.
Is your marriage failing? Can God create a new thing out of nothing there? Yes He can.
Not through your human effort. But He can do it if you will turn it over to Him. Whatever your issue is He can bring a new thing out of nothing. But I must believe and ask Him and ask Him to change me. I am going to come back to that question I asked in the very beginning.
If you were to die tonight and you stood before God and He asked you the question why should I let you into heaven what would your answer be? I hope you wouldn't say well I am trying to be a good Christian. Well you are going to fall short. You are going to fail. Well you know I was baptized. That is not going to do it. Well I was raised in a Christian home. Ok what do you want a medal?
Congratulations. But still there has to be a moment when you say I am a sinner and I know Jesus died on the cross for my sin and I am sorry for my sin and I turn from it and I put my faith in Him. Have you done that yet?
If you haven't I want to give you an opportunity to do it as we close now in prayer. Because in any of our services there is always someone who maybe you think is a fellow believer but they don't have this hope of heaven. As you sit here right now you are thinking I don't know if I will go to heaven or not. Who can know? You can know. I know. Well that is arrogant.
No it hasn't. Because God has given it to me as a gift. The gift of eternal life.
I have received it. You can too. And you can leave harvest today knowing with certainty you will go to heaven when you die and stand right before God with your past in your rearview mirror and a future with His plan ready to be laid out for you.
That is better than any plan you ever had for yourself. But you must come to Him and say Lord forgive me. We are going to close now in prayer. And I am going to extend an invitation for you to ask Jesus to come into your life so you can know with certainty that you will go to heaven when you die.
Let's all pray. Father thank You for Your Word to us. It is clear. It is concise. It is alive.
It is powerful. And I pray for any person here listening wherever they are if they don't know Jesus yet help them to come to You and believe so they can be forgiven of all of their sin. In Jesus name I pray. Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer.
And if you'd like to make that kind of change today in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg will help you in just a moment before we wrap up today here on A New Beginning. Well Pastor Greg we're making available the film Jesus Revolution on DVD so many of our listeners have asked about that. Well I read across a listener comment about the movie. This lady writes and says my husband took my 86 year old father to see the movie. Before it started I handed him some tissue.
He asked why. I told him he would probably get emotional during the movie because that was the era of his salvation. Well dad chuckled at me but when the movie was over he had used up all the tissue. That's so beautiful. So this was Lionsgate's most successful movie since 2019 but it's now available to watch in our own homes.
That's right. It's a great day isn't it? It really is and I want to add one more story to that gentleman's story. A lady writes me great movie my kids are 10 and 11 and they loved it. My son who is 10 leaned over while the movie was playing and whispered that he was sorry for being disrespectful and he's planning to bring his Bible to school the next day so he could ask his friends to meet him at the pavilion at recess so he could tell them about Jesus.
He said I know mom that might sound kind of scary but I'm not scared because Jesus wants me to be bold. So you know think about this an 11 year old boy and an 86 year old man all touched by this movie. This is a multi-generational movie. There's not a lot of movies you could sit down and watch with grandpa your mom and dad your son and your daughter and maybe even your grandkids but this movie kind of covers multiple generations in such a powerful way and we are very excited to announce that you can now order your own personal copy of the Jesus revolution film on DVD. That means you can watch it as many times as you want.
You can show it to as many people as you want whenever you want. It was a blockbuster hit in the theaters shocking many people but I believe it was an answer to our prayers because we've been praying about this film for a long time. The movie connects the movie impacts lives the movie in a way does the heavy lifting. Here's your job just get someone who's not a believer to sit down and watch the movie with you.
You could show it to them on your computer you can show it to them in your front room you can show it wherever you want to show it and afterwards there's a special message that I recorded that's uniquely on this DVD we're offering. It's about eight minutes in length where we shot it on a beach as the sun was setting really beautiful and I pick up where the story of the film leaves off and I tell a person how they can accept Christ and even lead them in a prayer. I'm telling you right now you will see people come to Christ with this movie as a tool if you get them to listen to it and watch it.
I think you might be surprised at what God will do. This is I believe the greatest resource we've ever offered in the entire history of Harvest Ministries. So get your copy today and I'll give it to you for your gift of any size but I want to be upfront we have to pay more for this resource than we normally pay but we're not going to charge you we're going to ask you to just send whatever you can but please be generous so we can continue to teach the word of God and proclaim the gospel right here in a new beginning. Yeah that's right and we so much appreciate your generosity. We'll be glad to send you Jesus Revolution on DVD along with a free streaming code as soon as you contact us. Just give us a phone call at 1-800-821-3300. You can reach us anytime around the clock at 1-800-821-3300 or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514 or go online to harvest.org. Well Pastor Greg you mentioned that someone can become a Christian with just a simple prayer.
Yeah. Maybe somebody would like to do that right now could you help them with that? Sure I'd love to a simple prayer is right in fact I would like to just pray a prayer and I would ask you to pray it after me right now. Pray these words Lord Jesus I know that I am a sinner but I also know that you are the savior because you died on the cross for my sin and you rose again from the dead.
Jesus come into my life and forgive me of every sin I've ever committed. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer. Thank you for answering this prayer Lord and I pray all of this in Jesus name.
Amen. If you just prayed that prayer and meant it I want you to know on the authority of scripture God Almighty has heard your prayer and he will answer this prayer. You are now a newly minted child of God so congratulations you've made the right decision and welcome to the family of God. I want to send you a special gift because of that prayer you've just prayed it's called the New Believers Growth Packet and in it is a copy of the New Testament in a very understandable translation called the New Living Translation. It also is filled with hundreds of notes that I wrote that will encourage you in this commitment you've made to follow Christ and there's some other outstanding materials in this little packet I'll send you as well so order your copy today and let me be the first to say to you congratulations and welcome to the family of God. Yeah to get that free New Believers Growth Packet just get in touch and we'll be glad to send it right out. Just call us anytime at 1-800-821-3300 that's 1-800-821-3300 or write us at A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or go online to harvest.org and click the words know God. When we have peace with God we can enjoy the peace of God. Pastor Greg digs into that next time. Hope for weary travelers. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner, sign up for daily devotions, and find resources to help you grow in your faith at harvest.org.
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