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What to Do When the Odds Are Against You | God's Provision

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
February 27, 2024 3:00 am

What to Do When the Odds Are Against You | God's Provision

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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February 27, 2024 3:00 am

Sometimes we may think that our effort, by itself, does count for much. Maybe we’re the only believer in our family . . . or the only Christian at work . . . or the only one in our group of friends at school. The odds are against us. Well today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie takes us to one of the most encouraging stories in the Old Testament. We’ll catch up with a military leader about to fight a battle, when God told him to send most of his army home so that God alone would get credit for the victory.

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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. God is looking for men and women that will shine their lights in our very dark world.

Our culture has never needed that light more than today. Coming up on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how to make ourselves useful for kingdom purposes. God can do more with a handful of people that are fully committed than He can with thousands who aren't.

Will you be a real committed follower of Jesus Christ? God can do a lot with a little. Sometimes we may think that our effort by itself doesn't count for much. Maybe we're the only believer in our family, or the only Christian at work, or the only one in our group of friends at school. The odds are against us. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie takes us to one of the most encouraging stories in the Old Testament.

We'll catch up with a military leader about to fight a battle when God told him to send most of his army home so that God alone would get credit for the victory. So my wife and I were with another couple the other night and they were asking us, is one of you the neater one or one the messier one in your relationship? Oh yes, we said definitely. So he asked, well who's the messy one? I said, oh it's Kathy. She is so messy.

I said, we go to a hotel room. She trashes them like a rock star. It's so embarrassing. She's the messiest person I've ever met. They're both, him and his wife are like, whoa I can't believe it. I said, I'm joking.

It's the very opposite is the case. She's very neat, very organized, always tidying up. Right after she makes a meal she's cleaning it up. She washes my clothes while I'm still wearing them. And I have to say it's very traumatizing the time I've spent in a dryer. I don't like it at all.

So it's not that at all. But I bring this up because sometimes in life you know we don't quite finish a job. I'll start a project at home and I won't finish it.

Kathy always finishes what she begins. And I think in life the same can happen. We say, I'm going to commit this area to the Lord and I'm going to be disciplined in this other area. But then a little time passes. I make a compromise here. I neglect something else there.

And then I live to regret it later in life. We don't think about the long lasting repercussions of our actions on our lives, on our children's lives, on our grandchildren's lives, and even our great grandchildren's lives. But there is cause and effect.

There is action and reaction. So we have to think about that. So what we're about to read picks up where Joshua leaves off. About 200 years later we find out what happened to Israel when they didn't do what God told them to do in the book of Joshua. So as we come to this story we see things are spiritually and morally upside down. In fact there's a verse, Judges 17, 6 that sums it up.

It says, in those days Israel had no king so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. Let me do a 60s paraphrase. Everyone was doing their own thing.

It is not a description of what is happening in America today. We are all doing our own thing. We are disregarding God. We are taking the Bible. We are deconstructing it.

We are saying, we don't believe this anymore. We are going to redefine what a man is. We are going to redefine what a woman is. We are going to redefine what the family is. We are going to do whatever seems right in our own eyes. And now as we sow the wind we are reaping the whirlwind.

And the Midianites in this case are in control. So as our story begins we find Gideon preparing the little wheat that he had hiding behind the walls of a small wine press. Hardly a picture of heroism or courage. But this is the man that God chose. So Judges 6 verse 12 we read this, the angel of the Lord appeared and said to him, mighty hero the Lord is with you. Gideon said, oh my Lord. If the Lord is with us then why has all of this happened to us? And where are all of his miracles which our fathers told us about saying did not the Lord bring us from Egypt? But now Gideon says, the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. Then the Lord turned to him and said, go in this might of yours and you will save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. But Gideon isn't seeing it.

He says in verse 15, Lord how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least of my father's house. Another translation puts it this way. I am the runt of the litter. I am the lowest of the low. That is how he fell. And now we see some very interesting principles on the kind of man or woman that God will use.

If you are taking notes here is point number one. God uses people who are humble. God uses people who are humble. They are not proud.

They are not arrogant. They see themselves for what they are. God tells Gideon what he is going to do through him. In verse 15 Gideon says who am I? The Lord effectively says it doesn't matter who you are. The real question is who am I? Listen buddy it is me working through you. Now a series of tests come to Gideon to prepare him for what he is about to do.

The first test happened in his home. The Lord said okay here is what I want you to do. I want you to go home. And your dad Joash built an altar to bail a false god.

I want you to tear it down. Gideon is like uh okay. You know what he loved his dad. He respected his father. Obviously this is going to cause a lot of tension to tear down his father's altar to bail. But he does it. But he does it at night because he was afraid of what his father would think. He was afraid of what the people would think.

He did tear the altar down but he did it at night. Bringing me to principle number two. If you want to be used by God you need to be faithful in the little things.

Be faithful in the little things. God gave him a little test. A bigger one was coming.

Here is a little test. Just go take care of this. Tear down that altar. Now the next test is coming.

This is a big one. God says get a bunch of men together. Start forming your army. Incredibly impressively Gideon manages to form an army of 32,000 men.

This is what happened next. Judges 7 verse 2. The Lord said to Gideon you have too many warriors with you. If I let you all fight the Midianites the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.

Therefore tell the people whoever is timid or afraid they can leave this mountain and go home. So 22,000 of them went home. Leaving only 10,000 willing to fight. Wow.

Hey if you if you don't want to fight go home. 22,000 guys see you man. Wow. Now he's down to 10,000 men.

What a disappointment. God was putting Gideon in a place where if the Lord didn't come through for him he was dead in the water and sometimes the Lord does this. To pull away our security blanket. We don't have all the backup plans in place and we're facing an emergency. We're facing a crisis. We're facing a problem. It might be a financial crisis. It might be a health crisis.

It might be a family crisis and it's getting worse and worse and you need to just call out and say Lord if you don't come through for me I don't have any hope. But that's not a bad place to be because that means you're in complete dependence dependence upon God. So sometimes the Lord will allow this to happen where we so we will realize the only way out is him.

There will be times in life where you will face what seem to be insurmountable obstacles. Like the Red Sea he wants you to get through. Or the towering walls of a Jericho he wants you to fell. Or a frightening giant like Goliath he wants you to defeat. But there's God doing his part and then there's us doing our part.

There's always his part and our part. The Red Sea parted but Israel had to march through. The walls of Jericho fell but Israel still had to march around them. The giant Goliath fell but David still had to attack him. So Gideon says to the men that don't want to fight okay go home to mommy. Now he's down to a much smaller fighting force.

Why did he dismiss those men? Because fear is contagious. Listen to this if you're looking for an easy life. If you're looking for a life with no conflict with no challenge go home to mommy. Because the Christian life is not an easy life. It is a life where you will face spiritual warfare. It is a life where you will need to resist temptation. It is a life where you will need to obey God and be counter-cultural in almost every way imaginable and perhaps even more so right now than I can remember.

But here's the thing it is the only life that is worthwhile following Jesus Christ. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We're thrilled when we hear from listeners that join us from every background every location every age. Hello Pastor Greg my nine-year-old son loves to listen to our local Christian radio station in his bedroom to hear you preach and teach.

Your messages have built him up and he's repeated some of the things he's heard you say. Thank you for being a godly role model in his life and sharing your gift of evangelism with the world. Keep up the Jesus work we love you and your ministry very much. If you have a story to tell of how Harvest Ministries is reaching people in your family would you let Pastor Greg know call 1-866-871-1144.

That's a special number 1-866-871-1144. We're watching Gideon prepare for battle with his army of 32,000. When the Lord told him to send more than two-thirds of his army home Pastor Greg is highlighting the spiritual lessons to be learned. Now one final test Judges 7 verse 4 the Lord told Gideon you still have too many bring them down to the spring and I will sort out who will go with you and who will not. When Gideon took his warriors down to the water the Lord said divide them into two groups and one group put all those who cup water in their hands and the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream. This reminds me of something that happened years ago we were in Israel leading a tour and we came to Gideon spring the actual place where this happened. So I wanted to illustrate and I said to one of our pastors Steve Wilburn I said Steve I need you to go down to the water and I need you to take the water and cup it in your hand and drink it so I can point to you and use you as an illustration.

He said boss I'm going to do it and he went down there. That's how Steve talks by the way. And so I'm giving the little message on Gideon and I said look this is the way they drank the water and Steve's down there drinking the water and suddenly I notice a sign that says do not drink water.

It's toxic and poisonous. Oh no. We're going to have to pray for Steve to be raised from the dead.

Unfortunately he was okay. So here are the guys drinking the water. We could divide them into two categories. We will call them the lappers and the coppers. The lappers could have been easily ambushed and killed. They just have their face buried in the water drinking not alert to what's going on around them. But the coppers those who kneeled bringing the water to their lips were alert cautious watching. The Lord said that's it.

Now he's got it down to three percent of the original 10,000. This is the Delta Force. These are the Green Berets. These are the Army Rangers.

These are the SWAT team. These are the elite ones now that God is going to use. The Lord says okay here's the battle plan.

You ready? Yes. You're going to break them into two groups. And here's what you do. On one hand you're going to hold a torch. Fire.

Put a clay pot over it. And on the other hand you hold a sword. No. A little knife.

No knife. A trumpet. Really? Isn't this like what happened at Jericho where they're marching around blowing trumpets. What is the thing with trumpets? A trumpet.

A torch and a trumpet. Okay. Then what? So you run down the hill.

You say for the Lord and for Gideon. You smash the clay pot. They see the torch. Blow your little trumpet. That's it. That's it. Wow.

And that's exactly what they did. They come running down the hill at night. Boom. They break the pot. Now the enemies see the flame. They blow their trumpet.

The sword of the Lord. And of Gideon the Midianites completely freak out. They're so disoriented they don't know what's happening. And they start attacking each other and kill themselves. And God gave to Israel the victory. It's so crazy.

But it's classic. And the Lord did it in such a way so He would get all the glory. So what's the takeaway truth of all of this?

Simple. God is looking for men and women today that will shine their lights in our very dark world. He's looking for people who will make a stand for their faith wherever they are starting with their family. Because there's a lot of people that I would describe as fair weather followers. You know they they say they're Christians but they won't make the stand. They're like the people that were fearful and afraid. But then there are those that are really committed. And they say I want to be used by God.

I wonder if some of you are here right now. God can do more with a handful of people that are fully committed than He can with thousands who aren't. Will you be a real committed follower of Jesus Christ? God can do a lot with a little. If you don't believe me when you get to heaven ask the little boy that offered his loaves and fish. He offered what he had.

God multiplied it and God used it for His glory. You know when Jesus walked this earth a lot of people started following Him. Especially after He did His most popular of all of His miracles.

And which one do you think that was? When He healed blind Bartimaeus? No. When He healed the leprous man? Again no. How about when He raised Lazarus from the dead?

No that wasn't it either. It's when He provided free lunch and multiplied those loaves and fishes. They're like you know resurrection from the dead is great but free food.

Now we're talking. And the crowds swell. And they're following Jesus. And Jesus actually challenged them. And offered some hard words to them. And thousands of them turned away. And He turned to His own disciples and He said will you also go away? They said Lord where else are we going to go?

You alone have the words of eternal life. There's an interesting little passage at the end of the Gospel of John. It says that many believed in Him when they saw the signs that He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them. Another way to translate that would be many believed in Him but He didn't believe in them.

Why? It tells us. Because He knew it was in the heart of man. He could see that their faith was fickle. He could see that their commitment was not genuine.

So He did not commit Himself to them. But then John 3 starts. Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus who came to Jesus at night. And we see the Lord unfolding the truths of the kingdom of God to this man named Nicodemus who came by night. Nic at night. If you laughed you're old because that's a really dated reference but it's all good.

And I have been using it a long time. But why did Jesus open His heart to Nicodemus when He effectively closed it to these other people? Because Nicodemus really wanted to know God.

Those other people did not. Yeah Gideon came and did what he did at night and so did Nicodemus. But the Lord opened the truth up to him and He said you must be born again. We've all heard the news about the tragic death of Matthew Perry one of the stars of Friends. And I watched a little interview that Matthew did a while ago in which he said when he was a very young man he prayed a prayer to God. And his prayer was God make me famous. No matter what more than anything else my prayer is make me famous. He said a couple of weeks later he was offered the role that he played on Friends.

Careful what you wish for you might get it. Matthew spent the rest of his life dealing with alcohol and drugs. And it was a great struggle. He said in another interview that he was a seeker of truth.

I hope he found his way to Jesus Christ. But this is the thing we think man if I just had fame I would be happy. We did a whole film about it. We explore the emptiness of fame. And there's so many things that we can choose in life saying this will make me happy and it won't. And there are these tragic illustrations of this in the lives of people that have been there done that.

Bought the t-shirt and in some cases they have been the t-shirt and they are telling us this is not the answer. It is Christ we are looking for. So God revealed himself to Nicodemus because the Bible says those that seek me will find me. So when I meet someone who says well I am seeking God my test as to whether or not they are seeking God is how they react to the gospel.

It is interesting when someone says well I am seeking God. Well really let me tell you what the Bible says. Put that away.

Put it away. Don't quote the Bible to me man. Wait I thought you were seeking God.

I am. Have you ever read the Bible? No. Can I tell you a version of the Bible?

No. Wait if you are seeking God if you are seeking truth why will you not even listen to what the Bible says? Answer. They are not seeking God. Because God says I will reveal myself to those that seek me. So if you really want to know truth you will at least be open to what the Scripture says. And here is what the Scripture says. It is what Jesus said to Nicodemus. For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son and whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. That is the gospel truth. That is the gospel in a nutshell.

And that is what Jesus said to Nicodemus and that is what He says to all of us right now. So in closing maybe I am talking to somebody that has had the bottom in life drop out. Maybe you have realized your dreams and then some.

Maybe you have checked all those boxes that you thought you should check to make you happy and there is something missing still. It is not something it is someone. It is Jesus you are looking for. And He is here with us right now in this place speaking to you. Standing at the door of your life and He is knocking and He is saying if you will hear His voice and open the door He will come in. So if you need Jesus to come into your life and forgive you of your sin that can happen for you right here right now.

In a moment we are going to bow our heads and pray and I am going to extend an invitation for anyone here that wants to find what you have always been looking for. You know when I was a little boy I lived with my grandparents for a few years. And I would go to bed at night and I would pull the covers over my head and I would talk to an imaginary character that I made up and I named him Mr. Nobody. And I would tell Mr. Nobody all of my problems. Sad thing is I was 30 when this happened.

No I was actually very very young. And I would tell Mr. Nobody what was troubling me. I would tell him what happened to me that day. I was reaching out. I didn't know who to talk to.

And one day I realized Mr. Nobody had a name. It was Jesus. My little boy way with as little as I knew I was trying to find God and He revealed Himself to me as He will reveal Himself to you if you really want to know Him. Let's pray. Father I pray you'll speak to the heart of every person here, every person listening, watching, wherever they may be. If they don't know you let this be the day they believe. The moment they're forgiven of all of their sins we commit them to you now.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer for those who are feeling the need to make a change today in their relationship with the Lord. If you feel the Lord nudging you, well Pastor Greg wants to help you take the next step. Would you like Jesus Christ to come into your life? Would you like your sin forgiven?

Would you like to fill the hole in your soul? Would you like to go to heaven when you die? If so just stop what you're doing and pray this prayer with me. You can pray it out loud if you like. You can pray it in the quietness of your heart if you choose. But pray this prayer. This is a prayer of asking Jesus Christ to come into your life. Pray this prayer these words, 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 and rose again from the dead. I turn from that sin now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen. Hey did you just pray that prayer? If so I want to congratulate you and be the first to say welcome to the family of God. Yeah that's right and we want to help you get started in this new walk with the Lord. We want to send you Pastor Greg's New Believers Bible. It's an easy to understand translation and it features hundreds of helps especially for new believers. It'll answer many of your questions and help you build a strong foundation for your faith. We'll send it free of charge so get in touch and ask for the New Believers Bible.

You can call 1-800-821-3300. Call anytime 1-800-821-3300 or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or go online to harvest.org and click Know God. Now a few minutes ago Pastor Greg mentioned the movie Fame produced here at Harvest that explores the lure and the dangers of fame and fortune. You can watch that for free on our Harvest Plus app. It's a powerful movie.

Check it out for free on our Harvest Plus app. Well Pastor Greg the living water track dates back to the 70s and of course was wildly successful and now you've turned it into the animated series called The Adventures of Ben Born Again and Yellow Dog. Yes. So you've taken this booklet this inanimate object and breathed life into it. You're like Geppetto. Oh yes but anyway uh well that's right we brought him to life. Brought Ben Born Again this little character I've been drawing for years and in case you missed it it's a play on words Ben Born Again as in I've been born again he's like a little surfer dude he has blonde hair and uh and he likes to hang around the beach he's passionate about Jesus and Ben he's sort of the narrator he's the straight man if you will and yellow dog a dog that talks um he is sort of the he's there for the laughs he's there for the comedy and so Ben's always trying to help yellow dog yellow dog gets himself into all kinds of trouble he's afraid of all kinds of things in fact one of the little cartoon adventures that we've done is when Ben takes yellow dog out into the surf now Ben's a competent surfer and yellow dog is behind him on an inner tube attached by a leash to Ben as they're paddling out and they get caught in some big waves and yellow dog starts to freak out in fact here's a little scene from one of our new Ben Born Again and yellow dog cartoons listen to this outside yellow dog big set coming isn't there a beginner's course around here don't worry man don't be afraid i'm not afraid i'm just very very very concerned come on we've got it oh we don't got it jesus help us oh that sushi's a little too fresh for me oh dude that was insane yeah well the next wave coming is from me waving goodbye to this ocean yellow dog gets himself into some real scrapes and of course he's the perfect comic relief Ben has to keep his eye on his furry companion and together they learn so many important biblical principles it's all in the adventures of Ben Born Again and yellow dog and the first episode is available right now why not watch it for free through our harvest plus app or at harvest.org it's the perfect length for active kids in their short attention span we think you and your child or grandchild will really enjoy it and we hope you'll consider partnering with us so we can continue to reach out in this innovative new way and Pastor Greg would like to thank you tangibly with a little gift a copy of the redesigned living water tract it comes in comic book form and was the first thing Pastor Greg drew as a new believer way back when we'll send it to say thank you for your donation and we won't be mentioning this much longer so contact us soon you can get in touch by calling 1-800-821-3300 we're here 24 7 to take your call 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or go online to harvest.org well next time a special program as Pastor Greg visits our nation's capital and share some words with those gathered at the recent march for life join us here on a new beginning with pastor and bible teacher Greg Laurie thanks for listening to a new beginning with Greg Laurie a podcast made possible by harvest partners helping people everywhere know god sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a harvest partner at harvest.org
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-27 04:59:02 / 2024-02-27 05:10:03 / 11

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