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What Is the Rapture & Why it Matters | Shining Our Light in Culture

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
November 30, 2023 3:00 am

What Is the Rapture & Why it Matters | Shining Our Light in Culture

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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November 30, 2023 3:00 am

On a clear, moonless night, a human eye can detect a match being struck 50 miles away! The darker the environment, the more a small light can make an impact. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie points out the vital importance of letting our light shine in this dark, sinful culture. We’re in a five-part series called “The End of the World: What Does the Bible Say?” . . . considering the Rapture, the Antichrist, Armageddon and the Second Coming.

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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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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 ebooks designed to help you grow in your faith. Jesus said, Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Let your light shine. The time is short, and the need to share our faith has never been more apparent. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out our marching orders.

How are we to live in light of the fact that Christ could come back at any moment? We should be a shining light in a dark place. A little light goes a long way. We need to let our light shine. On a clear, moonless night, a human eye can detect a match being struck 50 miles away.

The darker the environment, the more a small light can make an impact. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out the vital importance of letting our light shine in this dark, sinful culture. We're in a five-part series called The End of the World, What Does the Bible Say? Considering the rapture, the antichrist, Armageddon, and the second coming. What is the rapture? The rapture is that moment when Christ descends from heaven and we're caught up to meet Him. It is at this moment that we receive our new resurrection bodies and it is also at this moment that we are reunited with loved ones who have preceded us.

Here is the main text that we often go to for this teaching. It is 1 Thessalonians 4 verse 16. The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, and we which are alive and remaining shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and will always be there with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. Now how should I live in light of the fact that Christ could come back at any time?

Let me ask you this. If you knew somehow, we couldn't know this, but let's say for the sake of a point we could. If you knew somehow that Jesus was coming back today at three o'clock in the afternoon, I think we would all be living breathing saints at 2 45 don't you? We'd be wearing our Sunday morning smiles and our come quickly Jesus attitude.

Wow 15 minutes and it's going to happen. But we don't know when that day is going to be. So we need to live every day as though it could be the day that Christ returns. The great evangelist D.L. Moody was once asked the question, Moody if you knew that Christ would return tonight how would you spend the rest of the day?

Moody replied and I quote, I wouldn't do anything different than I do every day end quote. That's how we ought to live. So here now are the words of Jesus. To people who are waiting for the return of the Lord and what we ought to be doing and what we ought to not be doing. Let's read Luke chapter 12. I'm going to start with verse 36.

I'm reading from the New Living Translation. Jesus says be dressed for service. Keep your lamps burning as though you are waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth he himself will seat them put on an apron and serve them as they sit and eat. He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn but whenever he comes he will reward the servants who are ready.

Understand this if a homeowner knew exactly what a burglar was coming he would not permit his house to be broken into. We'll stop there. Now it's hard for us to wrap our mind around what Jesus is saying because this is a first century wedding. Weddings back in those days were a lot different than they are today. For instance a wedding today may last for you know two hours at the most and it can cost a lot of money thousands sometimes even millions of dollars. Kathy and I we had a hippie wedding. It cost like 80 dollars okay so but hey it may not have cost a lot that hippie wedding but we're going 50 years strong so that counts for something. But back in the first century in bible times weddings were different. They could go on for a week or longer and the sort of fun element was you never knew when the groom was going to appear. So it could happen in the morning or the afternoon or the evening. A cry would go out the bridegroom is coming and if you weren't ready you would miss the wedding right.

Snooze you lose. So that's the backdrop of what Jesus is saying. So how are we to live in light of the fact that Christ could come back at any moment.

Point number one. We should be a shining light in a dark place. We should be a shining light in a dark place. Look at verse 35. Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning. The King James Version puts it this way. Let your waste be girded in your lamp burning.

What does that mean? Well back in those days they wore long flowing robes. So to gird your way simply meant that you cinched your robe up above your knees giving you freedom of movement and mobility. To have your lamp burning just meant you had oil in your lamp. So back in those days their version of a flashlight was a little saucer with some oil in it and a floating wick. And they'd just walk around holding it in front of them.

And as we read in Scripture your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path. You'd sort of light your way. That was their version of a flashlight. So if we were to update this statement it would be like have fresh batteries in your flashlight and make sure your cell phone is fully charged. Because most of us don't carry flashlights anymore. We just use the flashlight feature on our phone right. And I don't know about you but my cell phone is always drained.

I'm always plugging it in and recharging it. So this is the idea. It just mainly means be ready. To let your light shine. Jesus said let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Let your light shine. Be a bright light in a dark place. I don't really like going to theaters anymore.

I just decided. And one of the reasons I don't like it is because people are looking at their cell phones all the time. And when you're in a dark theater and someone pulls their phone out my eye goes immediately to it. But that's what happens when it's a dark place. A little light goes a long way.

Well there's a positive aspect to that. A little light goes a long way. We need to let our light shine.

You know as our culture gets darker Christians need to shine brighter. Our objective in this ministry that we call Harvest is to go to unexpected places to reach unexpected people with an unexpected message. We try to do this in every way that we can. We do this through our crusades. We do this with radio and television. But more recently we've been doing a lot with films.

The Lord has opened up some great doors. In fact when COVID hit and we weren't able to meet in the stadium that year we produced a film called A Rush of Hope. And it was seen by so many people. Far more people than would have seen it if they had actually come to a crusade in person. We've done documentary films like Steve McQueen The Salvation of an American Icon. And I've had so many people tell me they came to Christ watching that movie in a theater who would have never come and visited us in a church. Then we did another movie called Johnny Cash The Redemption of an American Icon that reached many more people. But I think the thing we've been so amazed by is the Jesus Revolution film. It's on Netflix now and it immediately started trending on Netflix.

And this is very exciting. Because Netflix has an audience of 75 million subscribers. So when you're trending on Netflix that's a lot of people you're potentially reaching. And we have other projects that we're working on.

Even a little animation project that's going to be coming down the road because we want to reach out to young people as well. So lots of ways to reach people with the gospel. We need to let our light so shine before men that they can see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven. Here's the problem. Sometimes in the church we're more known for what we're against than what we're for.

And let me frame that. There is a time to speak out against evil. There is a time to say that's wrong. There is a time to speak out to the wickedness and culture which is so prevalent right now. But at the same time our primary energy should be expended into the proclamation of the gospel because that is the only thing that will change a human heart.

The only thing. So we should be looking for him. Watching for him.

Point number two. Verse 37. Blessed are those servants whom the master when he comes will find watching. You know a Christian can hold a bible in one hand. They can hold a newspaper. Do people even read newspapers anymore?

They can hold a news site on their phone or whatever on the other hand. And you can see how these things are happening in our lifetime. So many fulfillments of bible prophecy.

The emergence of China as a major military and economic superpower. Is that spoken of in scripture? I believe it is.

I'll tell you why next time. Also the decline of the United States as a superpower. Is that spoken of scripture?

It may be. The isolation of and hostility toward Israel. Is that spoken of in scripture? 100 percent.

The emergence of Iran as a terrorist nation. Desiring the complete annihilation of the Jewish nation. Is that spoken of in scripture?

100 percent. The prevalence of wickedness and depravity. Is that spoken of in scripture? Yes it is.

Random acts of violence. Is that spoken of in the bible? Yes. These are all signs of the times. So we need to be ready to go. Actually when Jesus says gird your loins and have your lamps shine bright would be like saying have your walking shoes on. You know have your comfortable shoes on.

Be ready to move at a moment's notice because you never know when that day will come. So good question ask yourself before you do something ask would I be embarrassed if I were doing this thing and Christ were to come back again. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We love to hear stories of how lives have been changed through the teaching of God's word and through movies like Jesus Revolution. Hi Pastor Greg.

I just finished watching Jesus Revolution on Netflix and wow it was such an amazing and inspiring film. My story in committing my life to Christ goes back to 2017 when I started a new job with a 45-minute commute. I would see a billboard that had the Christian radio station on it and I thought why not give it a try and when I tuned in it was your voice I heard. Since that day I've grown closer to God. I read his word attend a bible-based church and listen to you almost every day. Thank you so much for allowing God to use you the way he has. When we hear from you it's not only a blessing it also confirms that Harvest Ministries is touching lives. Would you share your story? If so email Pastor Greg send it to greg at harvest.org.

Do it today would you? Again that's greg at harvest dot o-r-g. Well today Pastor Greg is presenting a timely message about God's plan for the end times and specifically when the Lord returns for his church in the rapture. We're in Luke chapter 12. We should be anxiously awaiting his return anxiously awaiting his return verse 36 be like those who wait for their master who will return from the wedding and they will open to him immediately anxiously awaiting his return. These things that I'm sharing with you right now if they scare you a little bit if they cause you to be alarmed worried maybe something's not right in your life spiritually but if you get excited and you say I can't wait then that would indicate to me you are where you ought to be spiritually but you should want to immediately open the door.

Have you ever had someone coming to visit you maybe it was a friend or relative and and they're coming to your house and they text we just landed and we're getting our luggage we're in the car we're on our way we're in your neighborhood we're pulling up to your house you can't wait and you look through the window and here they come walking up your stairs and you open the door before they can even knock on it. You're anxiously awaiting their return that's how we should be as we look as we look at the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Point number five we should not only be waiting we should also be working working. Verse 43 blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. The bible says faith without works is dead. Watching for the lord's return will help us prepare our own lives but working will assure we bring others with us and notice he says in verse 43 blessed is that servant the word blessed can be translated happy is that servant.

See it's not a miserable repressive confining way to live looking forward to the return of Christ it's something that's joyful and that's how we all should be is we wait for him to come back again. Now in contrast to this believer who's ready here's a person who appears to be a believer but is not one at all who's not ready. Look at Luke 12 verse 45 but if that servant says in his heart my master is delaying is coming it begins to beat the male and female servants and to eat and drink and be drunk the master of the servant will come in a day when he is not looking for him. Wow this person appears to be a believer they're called a servant but they're a disobedient servant. Saying you're a Christian doesn't make you a Christian. Jesus says why do you call me lord lord and not do the things that I say and there are people today that profess to be Christians but are living an ungodly life. This is what's happening here but it's interesting that they're called a servant. Listen to this one of the easiest places to get a hardened heart against God is in the church. What?

Oh yeah in the church because the same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay. The same truth that transforms one life can cause another to say I know this I've heard this and you have no willingness to make any changes in your life. Listen the greatest inoculation against the gospel is the gospel heard but not heeded. So when you are going to travel overseas you might get a shot to be inoculated. Yeah in effect they put a little bit of that sickness into your body to build your immunity up for it in case you're exposed to it and in the same way you hear the gospel over and over again and if you don't respond to it your heart can actually get hard.

That appears to be the case and the story before is here. This person has a hard heart and verse 47 says they know what their master wants but they're not prepared to carry out those instructions and they will be punished. It even says that they're getting drunk. Some people are living a lifestyle of getting drunk and partying and and disobeying God and you will be caught unaware and this is not the way you want to be living as you wait for the return of the Lord. A Christian should never get drunk should I say that. The bible is so clear about this. I don't want to be under the control of the spirits I want to be under the control of the Holy Spirit.

The bible says the bible says don't be drunk with wine that leads to excess but be filled with the Holy Spirit. So let's conclude Jesus is coming. We need to be ready. Number one we should be shining lights in the dark place. Number two we should be watching for him. Number three we should be ready to go.

Number four we should be anxiously awaiting his return and lastly we should be working. What if this were your last day on earth? What if Christ were to come tonight? In a moment in the twinkling of an eye caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Jesus said two will be in the field one will be taken in the other left.

Two will be laying in a bed one will be taken in the other left. Years ago when we were newly married Kathy and I were laying in bed. It's okay we're we're married and we're talking about the rapture and Kathy says Greg imagine how exciting it would be. We would be laying here in bed and suddenly we'd be caught up into the presence of the Lord. Can you imagine as she's saying this I have a devious thought. I thought it would really be funny to slip quietly out of the bed which I did and I'm laying on the floor she's still talking about it. Greg just think we'd we'd be in heaven together. Greg she'd be Greg Greg she screams I'm laying on the floor laughing.

Don't try this at home. I'm a professional. A professional idiot but that's a joke but it will happen to a generation of people that one will be taken in the other left. What would happen to you if the Lord were to come back? Would you be taken or would you be left behind? That's entirely up to us. As I said earlier we decide in this life where we will spend the afterlife.

You don't decide later you decide now and there's only two ways. We're going to leave this world either through death or rapture. So the Bible says prepare to meet your God. You want to be ready to meet God. Are you ready to meet God if Christ were to come back tonight would you be caught up to meet him in the air or would you be like one of those wicked people living a compromised life that would be left behind. Listen that can all change because Jesus died on the cross for your sin and he paid the price for every wrong you've ever done and if you will turn from your sin and put your faith in Jesus to be your Savior and Lord you can be forgiven and you can be given a fresh start a new beginning and Jesus rose from the dead three days later and he stands now at the door of our life and he knocks and says if we'll hear his voice and open the door he will come in. In a moment we're going to pray and I'm going to extend the invitation to anybody here who is not sure if their life is right with God or not. You're not certain you would be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. You don't know if you're ready for the rapture or maybe you're living a compromised life.

You're doing things you know you should not be doing as a follower of Jesus and you can make a recommitment to him. So we're going to pray and I'm going to extend an invitation for you to get right with God. Let's all bow our heads. Father I pray that your Holy Spirit will convict and convince every person listening to this of their need for Jesus and help them to come to you and believe. In Jesus name I ask it. Amen.

An important prayer from Pastor Greg Laurie today here on A New Beginning and if you'd like to make a change in your relationship with the Lord Pastor Greg will help you make that change in just a moment so please stay tuned. You know Pastor Greg we hear a phrase every year keep Christ in Christmas but a Christmas without Christ is just hoopla. In fact you use that very word in your new devotional book about Christmas.

Tell us about this new resource and warn us to not get sucked into the hoopla. Yes you know for many people Christmas can actually be kind of a depressing time of the year. There's all this hype about spending money and being with the perfect family and having the perfect Christmas and most of us can't afford to spend all that money.

We don't have the perfect family and so it can actually be a time of heartache and even depression. Did you know that suicide rates actually go up in the holiday season and here's why. We're expecting Christmas to do something that well Christmas can't do.

It's Christ. It's a celebration of the birth of Christ that brings joy. Not all of the extra things we've come up with since then. Look I'm not anti-Christmas celebration.

I enjoy it all. Hey believe it or not we have a Christmas tree. We decorate it. We do all the holiday fun things as well but the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing and the main thing is Jesus himself. Keeping Christ in Christmas. So we have a brand new resource that you've never seen before because as I said it's brand new.

The ink is still wet. It's a new Christmas devotional that I'm calling Heaven's Light Breaking. 25 Christmas devotions that you can read starting at the beginning of December right up to Christmas day.

They're not real long but there's enough there that you'll get something to think about to pray about to seek to live out and then at the end of the little devotion we have a prayer that you can pray as you apply these truths in your life. We're very excited to send you this beautifully designed keepsake. You'll put it on the table maybe in your front room on your nightstand perhaps something you'll keep and reread for years to come with your family with your children even your grandchildren. Again it's called Heaven's Light Breaking a Christmas devotional brand new from us here at Harvest Ministries and in advance let me say to you have a very Merry Christmas. Yeah and we're eager to get a copy of this book into your hands during the holiday season. It's a beautiful hardcover book that'll help you keep the Lord at the center of your Christmas season and we'll send it to say thank you for your investment in keeping these daily studies coming your way each day here on A New Beginning and what better time to make a financial gift here during the season of gift giving. We can take care of the details for you when you call 1-800-821-3300 that's a 24 7 phone number 1-800-821-3300 or write A New Beginning box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or go online to harvest.org again it's called Heaven's Light Breaking. Well Pastor Greg you've mentioned before that someone can become a Christian with just a simple prayer.

That's right. 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. Hey if you just prayed that prayer I want you to know that Christ himself has come to live inside of you and I have a resource I want to send you it's called the New Believers Bible. So the New Believers Bible is the New Testament in the New Living Translation with hundreds of notes that I wrote that will encourage you in this commitment you are making to follow Christ. There's some other materials included as well in what we call the New Believers Growth Pack but let me get this New Believers Bible into your hands as quickly as possible.

Here's Dave to tell you more. Yeah you can get it by calling us anytime around the clock at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300.

Or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside California 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click Know God. Well next time we're introduced to a dark rather mysterious person known as the Antichrist. We'll dig into what God's Word says. 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.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-30 05:05:58 / 2023-11-30 05:16:14 / 10

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