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How to Look Up When Things Look Down | The Hidden Issues of Our Lives

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
January 25, 2024 3:00 am

How to Look Up When Things Look Down | The Hidden Issues of Our Lives

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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January 25, 2024 3:00 am

We like to put our best foot forward. It’s a cultural thing. We keep certain things to ourselves. If we’ve just bounced a check, or we’re in over our head at work, or there’s relationship stress – we stay silent on those subjects. But today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie points out, when Jesus makes His home in our hearts, we give Him permission to explore the hidden issues we’re keeping to ourselves . . . yeah, including the one you’re thinking about right now. Let’s get some good encouragement.

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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 harvest.org. Glad to have you in here.

Tell me what you want me to do and where you want me to go. That's right. We like to put our best foot forward. It's a cultural thing. We keep certain things to ourselves. If we've just bounced a check or we're in over our head at work or there's relationship stress, we stay silent on those subjects. But today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out when Jesus makes His home in our hearts, we give Him permission to explore the hidden issues we're keeping to ourselves, including the one you're thinking about right now.

Let's get some good encouragement. So question, have you ever been in a situation that looked utterly hopeless? There was no way out that you could see and it was like a worst case scenario unfolded and you realized there was nothing you could do to change it so you found yourself resigned to it but you decided to give God the glory despite what you were going through. You praised Him and suddenly, unexpectedly I might add, your situation turned around and that thing that seemed like the worst case scenario ultimately resulted in bringing about some good in your life and the life of others. Well here in Acts 16 is a beautiful example of two men who saw the good despite the bad.

They saw the hand of God in the darkest of places and they praised Him. Now what we're reading about here in the book of Acts is the second missionary journey of the Apostle Paul. Up to this point, this first journey, he was with Barnabas.

Remember him? The encouraging guy. Barnabas was the name given to him.

He was effectively Mr. Encouragement but Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement and they parted ways and now there's two missionary teams. Barnabas goes off with John Mark and Paul now has a new wingman and his name is Silas and so they're getting ready to go on this trip and they made a plan. They said hey let's go visit those churches we planted earlier in Asia Minor and let's see how they're doing but and they got ready to go on their trip but God had a different idea.

Has that ever happened to you? You had a plan. God had a different plan. It didn't quite work out. You know you had your plan. I know I'm going to submit my resume and I'm going to get this job.

He didn't get the job. I know I'm going to propose to this girl and she's going to say yes and she said no. I know this other thing is going to happen. I'm certain of it and the Lord redirected you. This is exactly what happened to Paul and Silas.

In fact we read in Acts 16 7 coming to the borders of Missia they headed for the province of Bithynia but the Holy Spirit did not let them go. Listen sometimes a door is closed in your face and you always think that it's a bad thing but not necessarily because God closes one door often to open another and there's a lot of ways that God can close the door in our life and by that I mean not let you do what you wanted to do. Sometimes it's through just a complete lack of peace in your heart. In Colossians it says let the peace of God settle with finality all matters that arise in your mind. There have been situations where I've just not felt comfortable inside.

I haven't felt that peace of God about a certain path I was pursuing and I've just thought I'm not going to go that way. That's one way that God can close the door. Other times it can be circumstantially. Something happens it could be sickness. We always think that sickness is bad.

Generally it is. Ultimately it's a result of sin that comes to all of humanity but having said that God could use his sickness to stop you. Paul spoke of his thorn in the flesh and many believe that was some kind of a physical issue. Maybe a result of being beaten and stoned and shipwrecked and all the other crazy stuff Paul went through. But Paul got you know Paul even said to young Timothy who was ill probably had an ulcer probably from hanging around with Paul and he said hey take a little wine for your stomach. So he was saying offering some medicinal advice.

If God wanted everyone healed certainly Paul could have prayed for Timothy and he would have been healed immediately. So God could slow you down or stop you through sickness or some other way. But the bottom line is the door was closed. So now they get on their boat and now they're headed in a new direction. Acts 16 11 says we ran a straight course to Samothrace and the wind was at our back.

I love this. They had a tailwind if you will. They got there a little faster. Have you ever felt like the wind was at your back? You're just cruising along in the will of God. Everything is really good. You know you're on the road. The lights are green.

The birds are singing. Everything's fantastic. Well that's what was happening at the beginning of their journey. They started off beautifully but then they took a bad turn.

Then they took a good turn. So now they're headed to a place called Philippi. Philippi is a Roman colony that was established by the emperor. He would organize colonies by ordering Roman citizens especially retired military people to go to selected places. So these would be pro-Roman cities and strategic areas. So Philippi was sort of like a Rome away from Rome if you will. Very Roman in culture. Very Roman in every way. So here comes Paul and Silas headed to Philippi.

Now I left out one thing. Paul had received a call from a man in a vision from Macedonia saying come and help us. And so Philippi is in the area of Macedonia. So he arrives with Silas and it's not a man that comes to faith first but it's a woman.

So he got the Macedonian call if you will from a man. Well when he arrives there's this lady there and her name is Lydia. Lydia was a very affluent woman. It says that she sold purple garments. So back in this day treating expensive cloth with expensive purple dye would be what we would call a designer gown.

A designer shirt. So this is a woman who was very affluent. Very well off. And this is the first convert of this second missionary journey. And you might say that the conversion of Lydia created a chain of events that ultimately brought down mighty Rome.

And it started with one convert. This woman named Lydia. Now she was a worshiper of God as best she knew. But she was seeking God. She reminds us of Cornelius that we talked about earlier who also worshiped to the best of his ability. But the Lord directed Cornelius to Simon Peter to hear the gospel and Cornelius believed. So here's another woman who's a true seeker of God and the Lord directed her to the Apostle Paul.

Or should I say directed the Apostle Paul to her. And here's something to think about. You know there are people that say I'm seeking truth. I'm trying to find the meaning of life.

And I've looked everywhere. I've looked into eastern mysticism and I've looked into new age philosophy and I've looked into this and I've looked into that. And then you say have you looked into Jesus and you pull out your Bible and they say put that thing away. Wait you're a seeker of truth right?

Oh yes. I want truth. Have you ever read the Bible?

No. I don't believe in that. How can you not believe in something that you've not even looked into. And if you're a true seeker of truth why don't you at least take a look at what Jesus said. The reality is they're not a seeker of truth that they won't look into what the Bible says. And because God says those that seek me will find me.

Well this is a true seeker of truth. This lady named Lydia. And now she hears the gospel. Look at verse 14 of Acts 16. She listened to us and the Lord opened her heart and she accepted what Paul was saying. She and her husband were baptized and she asked us to be her guests. If you agree then I'm a true believer in the Lord. They said yes we believe that. So they stayed at her home.

I love this. So they came to her home and there's this picture in the Bible of God making his home with us. Jesus said if we believe in him and follow him the father and Jesus would make their home with us. Paul writes that Christ would settle down with finality and make his home in your heart. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment.

We love hearing from our listeners whether it's a short word or they take some time to tell us what's going on with them. Pastor Greg we moved from Montana to Florida about six months ago to help my elderly sister. Although I'm also older with some health problems I'm anxious to be involved in ministry.

After we moved it was hard to find a good church. Your teachings and ministry have helped me. In fact I read your book Johnny Cash The Redemption of an American Icon and I was so surprised how many of my friends were interested in the singing artist you mentioned in the book especially the Beatles.

One friend asked if she could borrow the book for her nephew who loves all those singers and I gave it freely. Thank you for all you do at Harvest Ministries. If you appreciate the way the Lord is using Harvest Ministries to reach unexpected people in unexpected places with an unexpected message would you let Pastor Greg know? Just drop him an email gregatharvest.org.

Again that's gregatharvest.org. And now Pastor Greg continues his message from Acts 16 one of the most requested studies of the year called how to look up when things look down. You know the other day I was with Jonathan Rumi who plays Jesus in The Chosen. It was getting later in the day I said Jonathan you want to come over to our house for dinner? He said yes. So I said to Kathy Jonathan's going to come over for dinner.

So he is driving to our house and she says I'm at the stove working with the green beans and I look through the window suddenly this car drives by and it looks like Jesus is in the car. And we had a great time a great meal. By the way Kathy cooked fish which seems appropriate doesn't it?

I don't even know she consciously thought about that. But great time together. Fellowshiping. Talking about the things of the Lord. And we know he's not Jesus.

We know he's Jonathan Rumi who plays a role. But to me it kind of presents it what if Jesus actually came to your house. And you know you're cooking up the green beans and here's Jesus driving in right. And he comes up and he knocks at the door of your house and you hear a voice say behold I'm at the door so open it.

Because it would be more modern right. And and you open it and there comes Jesus Christ into your home. You probably would serve in fish. Strike the devil's food cake really inappropriate for dessert. But this is what is happening now to this woman. Jesus has come into her home. Jesus has come in to her life.

This woman named Lydia. And I love how it says she opened her heart. So she opened her heart and then she opened her home.

And apparently she opened up her resources too because she said stay with us we'll take care of you guys. And you know when Jesus really has come into your heart everything should be open to him. The story is told of General Sam Houston hero of Texas history. And he came to Christ in the later years of his life. And he decided he wanted to be baptized. And so the preacher took him down to the little river there and he's getting ready to baptize General Houston. And he noticed that Houston still had his eyeglasses in his pocket. He said he better take those out those that get wet.

And so they took his eyeglasses out. And then the preacher noticed he had a his wallet in his pants though. He said general you probably should take your wallet out that'll get wet in the water. And the general said if any part of me needs to be baptized it's my wallet. So they baptized General Sam Houston wallet and all. I wonder if we've all had our wallet baptized. Jesus said where your wallet is there will your heart be also.

Well he didn't actually say that but he did. And another way he says where your treasure is there will your heart be also. When you invite Christ into your life you open your heart you open your home you open your resources you open your future you open everything up to him and say Lord I'm glad to have you in here.

Tell me what you want me to do and where you want me to go. That's right. Well the devil is not happy when he loses a convert. So here's the devil now with his counter attack. Acts 16 verse 16. As we went to prayer a certain slave girl possessed with the spirit of divination who brought her masters much profit started following us. So this demon possessed woman now starts following the apostles. She was shouting these men are servants of the most high and have come to tell you how to be saved. Actually this word she said could be translated she shrieked. So here's Paul and Silas walking along through Philippi. She's behind him screaming out they're servants of the most high God.

Oh this woman's really getting to my nerves. And it's interesting because in the original language it says she had the spirit of python. And what that means is there was a myth that the python snake guarded the temple of Apollo. And so there was this weird demonic thing speaking of pythons I used to have a python when I was a kid. I collected all kinds of snakes but I had this python. And he always bit me.

I don't know what the deal was. Anybody else would put their hand in the snake cage and he wouldn't bite them but when I put my hand in the cage boom he would strike. Every time he struck I was bitten by that python so many times. And so one day I was feeding him a mouse. I hate to break this to you. Snakes eat live creatures ok. Little baby mice.

Really cute too. You put them in there. It's not easy. So anyway when you put a mouse in the cage of the snake the mouse goes in the corner shaking and the snake sees him and he goes in.

I know you didn't come to hear this at church but this is happening in life people. I got to let you know right. So I put this one mouse in and he got like hey what's up. He sees the snake how you doing. How you doing. Like a New York mouse.

What. You're looking at me you know. He walks right up to the snake. Snake's like whoa what's going on. I'm a python.

Don't you know who I am. The mouse walks around gets on top of the snake. Now the snake is in fear over in the corner. The mouse owns the cage. I said that mouse is not going to be lunch for my snake. I took the mouse out and made him my personal pet because this was a super cool mouse. This has nothing to do with our story.

Okay nothing at all. That's my token python story. She had the spirit of python. This demon power. And so Paul cast the demon out. Like we're done with this.

Why would he want that to happen. Because she was going to confuse people. People might even think she's part of the missionary team.

And she wasn't at all. She was possessed by the demon. Well now the people who were controlling this woman. Effectively trafficking her.

Pimping her out if you will. And making a lot of money off of her were outraged. Because this witchy woman was their source of income.

So when they exorcise the demon they also exorcise the income for her master. So now they're angry. Acts 16 verse 20 though. They go and try to whip up the people. And the whole city is in uproar because of these Jews they shouted. They're teaching the people to do things against Roman customs. A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas. And the city officials ordered them stripped and beat them with wooden rods.

Stop there. So now these accusers put Paul and Silas up on trumped up charges. Sounds like they're anti-semitic. These Jews. These Jews have come into our city. They're not Romans like us.

We're obviously superior they're saying. And these Jews have whipped the people up and and have done these horrible things. So now Paul and Silas are beaten. And now they're sent to prison.

So we pick up in Acts 16 verse 23 what happened after that. They were severely beaten. Then they were thrown into prison and the jailer was ordered to make sure they didn't escape.

So he took no chances and put them into the inner dungeon and clapped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. And the other prisoners were listening.

Underline that. Singing hymns to God. The other prisoners were listening. Verse 26 suddenly there was a great earthquake and the prison was shaken at its foundations and the doors flew open and the chains of every prisoner fell off. The jailer woke up to see the prison doors open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped and he drew a sword to kill himself. Paul shouted to him don't do it.

We're all here. Trembling with fear the jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down before Paul and Silas and he brought them out and asked sirs what must I do to be saved. They replied believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved along with your entire household. Then they shared the word of the Lord with him and all who lived in his household. The same hour the jailer washed their wounds he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized and he brought them into his house and set a meal before them.

He and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. Wow isn't that one of the greatest stories in the Bible. So Paul starts out as a prisoner and ends up leading the jailer to Christ.

Another heart is open and now another house is open. Now the Roman jailer's home would be much different than Lydia's home. She would have probably had a luxurious home with servants and plenty of food. This guy the jailer had a much different home. The Lydia would have been upper class.

He would have been middle class and the demon possessed woman lower class. In fact she had no possessions to speak of but it just shows that the gospel is relevant for every man every woman every class of person everybody needs Jesus right. Pastor Greg Laurie with great insight today from our studies of the events of the first century in the book of Acts and there's more to come as this message continues here on A New Beginning. You know Pastor Greg what you just said reminds me of our mission statement here at Harvest Ministries and A New Beginning knowing him and making him known. Yeah. We're all about showing people how to come to know God and how to come into a relationship with God. Yes. Someone can enter into that kind of relationship today can't they?

They can and it's so simple and I think because it's so simple people think oh it can't be that easy. Well look Jesus did all the heavy lifting. He carried the cross for you.

He died on that cross that he carried. This isn't about what you do it's about what he's done but here's what the Bible says whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. So let's just say that you're caught in a riptide out in the ocean and you need help and there's a lifeguard at the stand and they see you. You've got to call out to them and let them know you need saving and the same is true when it comes to eternal life. Jesus is ready to save you. Will you call out to him?

You say well okay how do I do that? You do it through prayer and prayer is just talking to God. So listen I'd like to lead you in a simple prayer and if you pray this prayer after me I believe God will hear it and answer it and Christ will come to live inside of you. Thousands of people have prayed a prayer like this over the years that we've been doing this radio broadcast and have seen their life change. There's no power or magic in a prayer it's all about your commitment to Christ but this is a way to call on the name of the Lord in this prayer. So if you want Jesus to come into your life and forgive you of your sin if you want to know that you'll go to heaven when you die if you want to fill that big hole in your heart just pray this prayer after me you could pray it out loud if you like pray it in the quietness of your heart but pray these words if you would Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the savior who died on the cross for my sin I am sorry for my sin and I turn from it now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward be my savior and my Lord be my God and my friend thanks for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer in Jesus name I pray amen. Listen if you just prayed that prayer I want you to know that God has heard you and has answered it the Bible says these things we write to you that believe on the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life that you may know it's yours now God has given it to you because it's the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord congratulations and welcome to the family of God. Amen and listen would you let us help you get started living this new life let us send you Pastor Greg's New Believers Bible it's in an easy to understand translation with so many helps specifically for those who are new to the faith we'll send it free of charge so get in touch for your copy of the New Believers Bible call us at 1-800-821-3300 we can take your call anytime again at 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org and click know God. You know at one time or another we've all wondered about heaven especially when a loved one has recently passed we wonder what they're experiencing right now Pastor Greg did your interest in heaven your curiosity about heaven grow a lot stronger when it became Christopher's new home yes it did of course you know I've always had a fascination with heaven I think as most Christians do I have always been a student of heaven I'm certainly not an expert on the topic but it's something I've been studying for over 50 years but after my son went there it suddenly became far more tangible to me like he is there right now what is he doing what is happening and so I began an extensive study of the topic of heaven and I wanted to learn everything I could learn about it what is it like what will we do there uh will we see our loved ones again short answer yes if they're Christians uh will it be fun will it be boring will it be boring uh the answer is yes it will be fun no it will not be boring but I've written about this in detail in a book that I authored called as it is in heaven so if you've had questions about heaven and I think we all do I think you ought to order a copy of this book and I'll send it to you for your gift of any size and whatever you send will be used to help us continue to bring the gospel to people and to teach the word of God through this broadcaster listening to now get your copy of as it is in heaven all right and we'll be glad to get a copy on its way to you thanks so much for partnering with us right now it's such an important time for that support contact us with your investment and be sure to ask for as it is in heaven and we'll only be able to mention this resource a short time longer you can call us at 1-800-821-3300 we're here around the clock to take your call 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org hey everybody I want to encourage you to check out the new harvest plus app it's on roku apple tv and google play among others and you can stream incredible content on all major platforms for free you're going to find live events our evangelistic films like a rush of hope johnny cash the redemption of an american icon steve mcqueen the salvation of an american icon and our newest film fame plus our tv programs our podcast Harvest at Home and a lot more stream it all on any device for free using the new harvest plus app well next time we'll see there's so much more inspiration to draw from act 16 we'll see the miraculous conversion of a philippian jailer join us here on a new beginning with pastor and bible teacher greg lorry 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 / 2024-01-25 05:08:48 / 2024-01-25 05:19:12 / 10

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