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Reflecting on the Past, Preparing for the Future | The Power of Prayer

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
February 1, 2024 3:00 am

Reflecting on the Past, Preparing for the Future | The Power of Prayer

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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February 1, 2024 3:00 am

When people get to the end of their rope and run out of options, sometimes you’ll hear, “Well, all we can do now is . . . . . . pray!” As if that’s the last resort, and not a great one at that. Turning to our God shouldn’t be our last resort, it should be our top priority. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie recounts the times he turned to God. It’s part of a recent 50th anniversary, celebrating God’s faithfulness to the ministry, even during challenging times.

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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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We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.

Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. It's either God or nothing. Is that the worst place to be? Don't put your eyes on your circumstances. Put your eyes on Christ. When people get to the end of their rope and run out of options, sometimes you'll hear, Well, all we can do now is pray, as if it's the last resort and not a great one at that. Well, turning to our God shouldn't be our last resort.

It should be our top priority. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie recounts the times he turned to God. It's part of a recent 50th anniversary, celebrating God's faithfulness to the ministry, even during challenging times.

OK, so, yes, we're celebrating 50 years as a church, but it's hard to pinpoint exactly in time when we were born, because before we were a church, we were a little Bible study of young people. So the way it happened, and you've seen the Jesus Revolution movie, you have a sense of it, but I used to hang around at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, and the pastors were all there, and they were all about nine to ten years older than me. And one day there was a discussion in this room, and the discussion was, Who's going to go to Riverside this week? Now, this Bible study in Riverside at All Saints Episcopal Church was started by Lonnie Frisbee, who was a youth pastor at Calvary Costa Mesa. I went up with him a few times there, and it was around 300 young people attending.

Then Lonnie moved away, and so it was being handed around to different Calvary Chapel pastors. So, who's going to go this week? One said, Well, I went last week. I don't want to go again this week. Another said, Well, I'm going next week, so I don't want to go this week.

No one wanted to do it, and I said, I'll go. I spoke that night, then I went back the next week, and after a while, it was starting to grow, this little Bible study. And so it was the little Bible study that turned into a church that eventually got our own property, and then we fast-forward to today, and here we are. But God called us to start this church, and we watched it grow, and we give Him the glory.

But that brings us to our text now. It's Matthew 14. The backdrop is the disciples are crossing over the Sea of Galilee. A great storm comes, and they're panicking.

They think they're going to die. And then they turn, and here comes Jesus walking on the water. And He says to them, Take courage. It is Me.

Don't be afraid. And our story picks up there, Matthew 14, verse 28. And Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it's You, command me to come to You on the water. So Jesus said, Come? And when Peter had come down and got out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid. And beginning to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him and said to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?

Wow. Don't you love that story? What an amazing step of faith this was on the part of Peter.

It could seem presumptuous. Lord, if it's You, tell me to come. But Peter did wait for permission. Jesus said, Okay, come. And here's Peter doing what no one else did. You know, sometimes people criticize Peter. He was rather outspoken. He did put his foot in his mouth more than once. A lot of ink is given in the Gospels to Peter's faux pas and shortcomings. But let's not forget that Peter was the only one of the disciples that was willing to put it all on the line and walk on the water to Jesus. It's been said that faith is a refusal to panic.

So he said, Let's see if this will work. He had no safety net. Now, Peter was not wearing those little water wings. You know those little inflatable things? I still wear them today. People make fun of me, but I like them.

No, I don't. In fact, when my boys were growing up, I didn't want them to wear those water wings. I wanted them to learn how to swim instead. But no water wings, no backup plan.

It was just him and Jesus. And there's no better place to be. I'd rather be in a storm with Jesus than anywhere else without him. Maybe I'm talking to someone right now that is in a situation where you have no safety net. You have no backup plan. It's either God or nothing, okay?

Is that the worst place to be? God's going to be faithful. God will come through for you. And that's exactly where Peter was. He asked for permission. The Lord says yes.

And Peter begins to walk on the water. Where did this faith come from? From the word of Jesus. Jesus said, come. Faith comes by hearing. Hearing by the word of God. I can think of many times over the years where I've heard the Lord say to me, come. Now, I've never heard the audible voice of God. And to be honest, I'm suspicious of people who say they have. But I have had the Lord direct me very clearly. And I can think of certain moments in my life where I knew it was the will of God for me to do a certain thing.

But there always was risk involved in it. When we moved from that little church we were meeting in, a little Episcopalian church, to our own building, that was a huge step of faith. And when we bought the piece of land, we were so young and it was so expensive. And yet we took that step of faith. The first time we went to Pacific Amphitheater for our first crusade, big step of faith. Then we went to Angel Stadium, another big step of faith.

Starting Harvest Orange County, another big step of faith. When we booked AT&T Stadium, gigantic venue, seated over 100,000. That could have been the biggest flop of all time.

But amazingly, every seat was filled and there was overflow and another 250,000 people watching around the country and around the world. So took steps of faith. And it's just looking to Jesus. And that's the key. You look to Jesus. Don't put your eyes on your circumstances.

Put your eyes on Christ. Years ago, Jonathan was a little boy and he wanted to scuba dive. So there was this little course you could take in Maui where they'd train you for a day in the swimming pool. And then we'd go up for an ocean drive accompanied by an instructor. So I decided, I said, I'll join you when you do the dive because I'm certified.

Which means I dove before and I can rent scuba tanks and such. But I hadn't done it for quite a while. So the instructor said when he was training Jonathan and the other students, would you like to take this little refresher course? And they said, I'm fine. I remember it all. OK.

Famous last words. So Jonathan went through his little course and the water was really calm that day. But then the next day for our dive, the waters were really rough and the boats were pitching back and forth. And I said, I don't think we should do it today.

The instructor said, no we're going to do it. So we get on the boat. You strap on all that heavy equipment. You've got your BC, your flotation vest. You've got your tanks which are very heavy.

You've got your aqua lung or your regulator. Then you've got your weight belt and your fins and your little rubber ducky which I always carry. And then the way you get in the water is you lean on the edge of the boat and fall backwards. That's the last thing you want to do in a rough ocean with a bunch of weight on you.

But that's exactly what we did. And as we're bobbing around in the ocean I began to feel a sense of panic come over me. And Jonathan was feeling it too. And I was looking at Jonathan and I'm looking around and I see the instructor. The instructor looks at Jonathan and said, Jonathan look at me. Jonathan looks at him and I looked at him too. He says, remember what I taught you.

John said, okay. Yeah, okay. But I didn't listen.

I didn't go and get a refresher course. He said, just breathe. Put your regulator in. Breathe. So we started breathing.

And then as soon as we went below the surface it was calm and beautiful, okay. But Jesus could say the same thing to you. Hey, look at me. Remember what I taught you. Get your eyes off of the circumstances. Get your eyes off the stormy seas. Get your eyes off of yourself.

Put them back on me. What does scripture say? We're running a race and we should run it as we look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Looking to Jesus. That's what Peter was doing but what he stopped doing and then he began to sink. Look at verse 30.

When he looked at the waves churning beneath his feet he lost his nerve and he began to sink. That brings me to my next point. We will all have lapses of faith. You know you can have a lot of faith one day and not have it the next. You can have a lot of faith one hour and not have it ten minutes later. You're believing God.

You're taking risks. You're applying faith and all of a sudden you have a lapse of faith. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is in Acts 12. James the apostle had been arrested by King Herod and was put to death.

Then he arrested Peter. So it looked as though the great apostle was going to be also put to death. But the church prayed. And I love Acts 12 one because it says constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. There is a lot of truth packed into that simple verse. Constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. The word constant means passionate.

Heartfelt and continuous. They are continuously passionately praying for the deliverance of Peter by the church. They weren't praying individually though I'm sure they did that as well but together.

And what happened? Their prayer was heard. And an angel of the Lord was dispatched. And the angel went into the prison where Peter was and woke him up.

And the doors opened up automatically. And Peter comes walking out and he goes over to a house where they are having a prayer meeting no doubt for Peter. And he knocks on the door and a girl named Rhoda answers. And standing before her is the answer to her prayer. There is Peter. What is so funny about this story is she sees him and just walks away. Instead of inviting him in she walks away and goes to the back where the apostles are praying.

They are probably praying. Oh Lord deliver Peter. Lord you are a miracle working God. Hey guys Peter is standing at the front door. You are crazy woman. Lord deliver Peter.

Guys Peter is standing at the front door. You are out of your mind. Lord go look. And so the Bible says they all went together. Which I find humorous. Like a little let's all go together. I am not going along with gossip. And there is Peter.

Hey let me in. But here is the point. Here were these great men and women of God praying but when the prayer was answered they didn't believe it. Hasn't that ever happened to you? Will you pray for something?

Boom it is answered. Whoa. Yeah that is called answered prayer. Sometimes it takes longer than we would like. Sometimes it happens sooner than we expect. We have lapses of faith. And when you have a lapse of faith you need to call out to the Lord.

Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Hey everybody I want to encourage you to check out the new Harvest Plus app. It is on Roku, Apple TV and Google Play among others. And you can stream incredible content on all major platforms for free. You are 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 you have joined us for a reassuring message about turning to God in challenging times. It is a study called Reflecting on the Past, Preparing for the Future. Well my son Christopher was around 10 years old. We went out surfing. It was me, him and Ricky Ryan. I am not a very good surfer I will tell you that. But Ricky Ryan he is a seasoned surfer.

And so I felt confident having Ricky there. And so we take the little 10 year old Christopher out but then this huge set of waves comes rolling in. And the problem is we weren't far enough out to get over them. We couldn't get under them. We were like in the impact zone. And they are crashing right in front of us.

And this one wave crashed and the white water was really high. And I am looking at it and Christopher turns over to me and says Dad. And I said Christopher pray. And I love his little 10 year old prayer.

Little 10 year old kid. Oh Lord Jesus he says. And I was praying the same thing.

Thankfully we got through it. But when you have a lapse of faith call out to Jesus. When you have a lapse of faith call out to Jesus.

Look at verse 30. Beginning to sink Peter prayed Lord save me. And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him and said to him.

Oh you of little faith why did you doubt. Immediately. He didn't wait. I'm going to wait a couple of minutes and let you just suffer. No Jesus immediately reached out.

Pulled him back up. Are you having a lapse of faith right now? It's okay. Just call out to Jesus.

We all have them alright. We all have those moments where we just forget what we should remember. We should never believe our doubts. And we should never doubt our beliefs. Instead we should believe our beliefs and doubt our doubts. So call out to Jesus. So yes Peter failed. But what a spectacular failure.

You know it's been said. If at first you don't succeed. Relax you're just like the rest of us. You probably thought I was going to say try and try again. That's usually how it goes.

I like this one better. If at first you don't succeed relax. You're just like the rest of us. But again as I said earlier I would rather take a bold step of faith. In my efforts to honor God and fail.

Than do nothing at all. And a lot of people do nothing at all with their faith. And then they have the audacity to critique others. Who do apply their faith. So let me say something to maybe someone watching or listening right now. Who's taking a bold step of faith and it didn't go as you had hoped. You shared the gospel with someone and they shut you down. You started a little home bible study and no one showed up.

Even the dog and cat left. Maybe you prayed for someone who was sick. And they didn't get healed. I remember once I had a friend come up to me and say I'm really sick will you pray for me. I said yes I will. I prayed for him.

And then he got violently ill after that. A couple days later he came back to me and said never pray for me again. Whatever sorry. But here's what I want to say to you.

If you've done any of those things and you failed thank you. Thank you for taking that step of faith. And I pray that your father who sees you in secret will reward you openly. So 50 years of God's blessing. What's ahead? Some would say Greg culture is changing. So you have to change with the times.

There's some truth to that. I mean I think adapt. Adapt to culture. You know we want to always be there with the gospel in an appropriate way. And by appropriate I mean answer the questions people are actually asking.

Show them how Christ is the ultimate answer to whatever they're facing. But I've been doing this for a while now. And a lot of generations have come and gone. When I started out it was the greatest generation as we call them. The generation of my parents. The World War II generation. And my generation. The baby boomers. We were the young generation. One of our anthems was forever young. But now we've gone from acid rock to acid reflux.

So it's. We're not so young anymore. Then along come the busters. Generation X. Kind of a sad thing because they're often overlooked. Because people seem to go right from millennial or baby boomers to millennials. Gen X is like hey what about us?

Yeah that happens. But now we're talking a lot about Gen Z. And they've been described by some as the hopeless generation.

I don't know if that's the best description. But each generation has its unique features. But the answer for every generation will always be the same. It's the gospel. It's Christ himself.

He is the answer. We'll keep preaching that message. Psalm 119 90 says your faithfulness continues from generation to generation.

So here's a commitment I will make to you. Number one I will continue to teach God's word faithfully to you whenever I get up to speak. I'll always open up the scripture. And as I said I'll offer you theology without apology. We will always extend invitations for people to come to Christ. We'll continue to try to find new and innovative ways to bring the gospel to our culture. We'll continue to disciple people and then raise up the next generation.

Acts chapter 13 verse 36 says David served the will of God in his generation and then he fell asleep. In other words he did his work and then he was gone. And one day my work will be done and the next generation carries it on. It's like a race. And in a race it's not a solo race. It's like a relay race right. You know where the baton is passed. And so you run with the baton for your generation. And then when your race is done you pass on the baton.

And they do the same thing and that's how it works. That's what we're going to continue to do. We've done it for 50 years and for as many years as the Lord at least gives me.

I'll continue to do it. We'll reach new people. There's new mountains to climb.

New opportunities to pursue. But we have our marching orders from the Lord to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Our mission statement at Harvest is knowing him and making him known.

And that's what we will continue to do and pursue. So I'm telling you what I'm going to do. Here's what I would like you to do. I would like you to commit yourself afresh to the Lord. And find your place in the church. You know there's a trend among some Americans today to attend church less and less. We'll do it when we get around to it. And I think it's so important as parents to set an example for your kids. That church is important.

This is our priority. We're going to church now. Yeah but we want to go to the beach the sun's out. Yeah we'll go to the beach after church. Let's go. We'll go to the first service.

It's eight o'clock. It's okay well you'll survive. And they'll resent you for it maybe. Teenagers will resist you. One day they'll come back and thank you. Then their turn will come when they have their kids.

But see here's the point. Commit yourself. But it's not just attending church. I want to encourage you to be a part of the church. And serve in the church. There's so many serving opportunities. So I don't say that just because we have needs for you to serve.

Though we do. But I say it because you will be blessed as you serve. Because the Bible says it's more blessed to give than it is to receive. There is a blessing in giving. So you have to discover, develop, and use your spiritual gifts.

And how do you do that? Simple word of advice. Volunteer for everything. That's what I did. I volunteered for everything.

I would do anything. Just let me take a shot at it. And I wasn't good at a lot of those things. But after a while I began to discover what my gifting was.

Sometimes it's through process of elimination. Just say where do you need help? I'll help there. I'll volunteer here. And then when you come to church you're not just attending but you're participating. What a great opportunity for you to build friendships and learn to do life with other people. Just say Lord here I am.

Send me. And so in closing I want to offer a blessing to you from God. Where the Lord says, and I love this, it was given to the priests to pronounce over the people of Israel continuously over and over again.

Where they would say, the Lord bless you. The Lord keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you peace. Great encouragement today from Pastor Greg Laurie here on A New Beginning.

His message titled, Reflecting on the Past Preparing for the Future. Pastor Greg you talk quite a bit about how the Lord is ready to help us in our times of challenge. What if someone listening realizes that they don't really know how to come to God? Maybe they've never entered into a relationship with the Lord.

What would you say to that person? I would say that God is just a prayer away. You know it doesn't take years to become a Christian. It doesn't take months. Frankly it doesn't even take hours.

It can happen so quickly. It just starts with you saying to God, I know I'm a sinner. I know that you love me. I know that you sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sin and pay for those sins. And then to rise again from the dead and I want him to come into my life. So here's my question to you.

Have you done that yet? Because Jesus who did die on that cross and rose again from the dead three days later is alive and standing at the door of your life right now and he's knocking. And he's saying if you'll hear my voice and open the door I will come in. Would you like your sin forgiven? Would you like to know that when you die you will go to heaven?

Do you want Christ to come into your life right now? If so why don't you just stop whatever it is you're doing and pray this prayer with me. You can pray it out loud. You can pray it in the quietness of your own heart. But pray this prayer to God. Say, Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner but I know that you are the savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from it now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. I ask all of this in Jesus' name, amen. Listen, if you just prayed that prayer the Bible promises that God has heard your prayer and has answered that prayer. The Bible says that we will confess our sin.

He's faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So, God bless you. You've made the right decision, the decision to follow Jesus Christ.

Yeah, that's right. And Pastor Greg would like to help you get started off right living for the Lord. He'd like to send you his New Believers Bible. It features hundreds of helps for new believers and it's written in an easy to understand translation. So contact us for your free copy of the New Believers Bible. Call us at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300.

Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click Know God. Well, Pastor Greg, we're so excited to talk about a brand new project here at Harvest. Yes. Many listeners know you designed a gospel tract many years ago.

Millions have seen it. Yeah. But you turned this static printed piece into an animated series. It's been brought to life.

Yes. Well, it all started with the living water tract. So back when I was 17 years old, I just accepted Christ. And in my art class, we had the assignment, you need to do a cartoon strip.

Well, that's the easiest thing in the world for me because all I do is draw cartoon strips. And so I thought, well, now that I'm a Christian, I wonder if I could do a cartoon strip about my faith. And so I heard Pastor Chuck Smith talk that week about the woman at the well.

And how she was trying to fill a void in her life. And Jesus said, if you drink of the water I give, you'll never thirst again because it will well up as a fountain inside of you. You'll have living water.

So I thought, that's what I'm going to call it, living water. So I drew this little cartoon character, and I just sort of laid the gospel out in this living water tract. So I didn't really know Pastor Chuck. I was just attending this church, but somehow I found out where he lived. I knocked on the door of his home. I said, hi Pastor Chuck, my name is Greg Laurie.

I just accepted Christ, and I drew this little cartoon track based on your sermon. Well, Chuck looked it over. I saw him smiling, and then he said to me, can you reformat this in a different size because I'd like to print it? Well, I'd never really had anything printed before. I was very excited.

I went back, reformatted it, brought it to Chuck. They printed it. They printed around 10,000. They were gone immediately. Then they printed 100,000.

Those two were gone. Then they ultimately printed well over a million, and they went all around the world. So we would just give them out to people. It was a way to start a conversation. So with the popularity of the Jesus Revolution film, we told the story of the little living water tract, and a lot of people are interested in it, saying, I want to see that living water tract. So we thought, why don't we re-envision this? Let's bring the living water tract out now, but maybe modernize it a little bit, and even more, what about animating it? So what we have now is an animated version of the living water tract for you to have as a tool to share your faith. So I can't show it to you, unfortunately, but I can let you hear a little bit of it. So here is a little excerpt from this little animated film that we've done, The Adventures of Ben Born Again and Yellow Dog. And the title of the cartoon is Bridge Out, and this is when Ben opens up the living water tract, and Yellow Dog is reading it for the first time. Give a listen. In the beginning, God created man to have a friendship with him.

Daddy! But God also gave man a choice. He did?

Because God wants us to love him because we choose to. Let me guess, that didn't go well. That's true. Man said no. See you later, big guy. I'm doing my own thing. So man was separated from God because of sin. Oh, way to go, man.

Way to ruin it for the rest of us. I'm not done. God is so holy.

He sets a goal of perfection, and we all fall short of that. Yeah, I see. Tell me about it. But don't worry.

That's where Jesus comes in. Oh, wow. That's cool. So there's a little teaser, if you will, of what this cartoon sounds like. And Dave, I'm very excited to announce that this new animation of Ben Bourne again and Yellow Dog is available right now on all Harvest streaming platforms.

You can go to harvest.org. You can go to our new streaming platform that's called Harvest Plus and see for yourself the first cartoon in a series of adventures that are yet to come. This is the Living Water Track brought to life through animation. Yeah, that's right.

So check it out today. Each episode is the perfect length for a child's attention span, if you know what I mean. And there are so many biblical lessons tucked in between the action and humor. Thanks for recognizing our commitment to bring the gospel into innovative new settings so we can reach more and more people, people of all ages.

And that's only possible through your support. Please partner with us so we can keep touching lives for eternity. And Pastor Greg wants to thank you tangibly for your gift with a newly redesigned Living Water Track in comic book form.

It's the resource that launched it all. So get in touch with your donation today. Call 1-800-821-3300. Call anytime 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.

Or go online to Harvest.org. And remember, you can watch this first episode for free there at Harvest.org or through our Harvest Plus app. Well, next time, travel with us to Spokane, Washington, as Pastor Greg speaks to an enthusiastic audience about sharing the love of the Lord Jesus-style. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life, share your story, leave a review on your favorite podcast app, and help others find hope.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-10 12:58:58 / 2024-02-10 13:11:45 / 13

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