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Follow Me | God's Calling

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
March 12, 2024 3:00 am

Follow Me | God's Calling

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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March 12, 2024 3:00 am

Billy Graham wasn’t just a good preacher, a passionate speaker, and a strong believer, he was the greatest evangelist in history. But he was a humble young dairy farmer before he accepted God’s call on his life. What kinds of things can God do through you when you accept His call on YOUR life? That’s the question we’ll explore today here on A NEW BEGINNING. Glad you’re along as Pastor Greg Laurie continues his series in Mark. He’s titled this message collection “The Gospel for Busy People.”

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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 is putting his team together. He was going to choose 12 men in total, and they would be the most ordinary of all men. Pastor Greg Laurie points out that the Lord is looking for ordinary men and women to join him in doing extraordinary things. They weren't saints, nor were they scholars.

They were hopelessly human, but they were available to the Masters call. Do you want to be on Jesus' team? Billy Graham wasn't just a good preacher, a passionate speaker, and a strong believer. He was the greatest evangelist in history. But he was a humble young dairy farmer before he accepted God's call on his life. What kinds of things can God do through you when you accept His call on your life?

That's the question we'll explore today here on A New Beginning. Glad you're along as Pastor Greg Laurie continues his series in Mark. He titled his message collection, The Gospel for Busy People. Let's look at Mark chapter 1, verse 16, as we continue in our series, The Gospel for Busy People. One day, as Jesus was walking along the shore of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother, Andrew, throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, Follow Me, and I'll show you how to fish for people.

By the way, I'm reading from the New Living Translation. The King James translates that verse as follows, Follow Me, and I'll make you a fisher of men. Mark goes on to say, And they left their nets at once and followed Him. A little further up the shore, Jesus saw Zebedee's son, James and John, in a boat, repairing their nets. He called them at once, and they also followed Him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired man.

So here's point number one. Jesus is putting His team together. Do you want to be on Jesus' team? He was going to choose 12 men in total, and they would be the most ordinary of all men. They weren't saints in the traditional use of the word. Now, technically, they were saints, because a saint means a true believer.

So anyone who has put their faith in Christ is technically a saint, but in modern usage, a saint is some extraordinary holy person. So they weren't saints in that way, nor were they scholars, nor were they sages. They were hopelessly human. They were remarkably unremarkable, but they were available to the Master's call. Now, Simon and Andrew had been disciples of John the Baptist.

Remember, we talked about him last time. He came before Christ, preparing the way, and he said to them as Jesus walked by, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. So they transferred their allegiance from John over to Jesus, but they still didn't fully understand who Jesus was or what He had come to do. James and John are also mentioned, and they're given this special title, The Sons of Thunder. I sort of see James and John as two outlaw bikers, you know, coming up and being called by Jesus to be a part of the team. Again, what an eclectic group of people.

But here's a point I want to bring to your attention. Note that all of these men were doing something when Jesus called them. Andrew was throwing a net into the water, along with Simon.

James and John were in a boat repairing their nets. And we see the same elsewhere in Scripture. People were busy when God called them. As an example, David, who would become the king of Israel, was watching over his flock when he was summoned by the prophet. Moses was watching over a flock when the Lord spoke to him through a burning bush.

Elisha was plowing in a field when he was called by Elijah to carry on the prophetic ministry, bringing me to point number two. If you want to be used by God, get busy doing something for the Lord. Just get busy with what is in front of you. Mend those nets. Cast those nets. Tend those sheep.

Plow those fields. Teach that Sunday school class. Go on that mission trip.

Share one-on-one. Give that tithe. Just get out and do something. Do what you can, where you can. One way to find out what you're called to do is maybe by discovering what you're not called to do. So when someone comes to me and says, oh, Greg, I want to be used by the Lord, I always suggest to them that they go volunteer at their church. Go to your pastor. Say, Pastor, I want to be used by God, and I'll do whatever needs to be done.

Now, hold on. You may not get the job you wanted. You might end up doing some janitorial work or setting some chairs up or doing something menial like that, but that's probably because the pastor is wanting to see if you'll be faithful in the little things. I remember when I was a brand new Christian, and I went to Pastor Chuck Smith at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I was 17 years old, and I said, Chuck, I want to serve the Lord. I'll do whatever you guys want me to do.

And they gave me different tasks, starting with janitorial, sweeping leaves, cleaning toilets, and I did it all, and I remember one day they gave me a special mission to go on for God. They said we need a new doorknob for the church office door, so I went down to the local hardware store. I've never been a mechanical guy. If you want anything fixed, never call me. If you want it broken, call me.

I'll help you with that. And I looked at all these doorknobs in different sizes. I literally prayed, God, help me find the right doorknob, and I chose one and took it back, and it was the wrong size. So I failed in my mission, but it was little things. But I thought, well, maybe God wants me to be in a worship team. So I joined this worship group, and I was doing percussion.

I was playing a conga drum or something like that, and I remember standing up there in front of the people, and of course I couldn't really keep the rhythm very well, and I discovered this is not what I'm called to do. Sometimes you find out what you are called to do by first finding out what you're not called to do, but here's the key. Whatever you do it, the Bible says, do it with all of your heart as unto the Lord, and be faithful in the little things. Bringing me to my next point, if you want to be used by God, be faithful in what is before you now. Jesus says in Luke 16 10, unless you are faithful in small matters, you won't be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities.

So be faithful in those little things. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We hear from so many people who find Christ through the harvest crusades, like this woman. Pastor Greg, I grew up going to church as a child with my family on a military post.

As an adult, I married into a military family, and my husband and I were stationed in California. One day, some of the other military wives invited me to one of your harvest crusades. It was there that I heard for the first time what a true relationship with Jesus Christ was. I can't thank you enough.

You have touched so many lives, including mine, and you're a blessing to so many. Thanks, Pastor Greg. Do you have a story to share with Pastor Greg? If so, email him and tell him about it. Send it to gregatharvest.org.

Again, that's gregatharvest.org. Well, we're joining Pastor Greg today in the Gospel of Mark, for a look at how we can follow the Lord's call and be used by God. As we make our way through Mark chapter one, after this, Jesus goes into a synagogue, and he encounters a demon-possessed man. Jesus casts the demon out of the man, and the people are astonished. It's interesting, the phrase that Jesus used to the demon was, be quiet, or literally, be muzzled. By the way, that's the same phrase he used when he rebuked the storm.

Remember that story? He went up and said to the storm, be still. It's that same phrase, be muzzled, because he was saying to the devil, stop. The devil's sort of like a crazy dog ready to bite.

Be muzzled, stop, be still. The disciples are beginning to discover the power that Jesus has. He has power over demons. In time, they're going to see that he had power over sickness, and even power over death itself. The most important thing that Jesus had power over was sin. He and he alone could forgive sin, because he would soon discover.

Yes, he was God, but he was God walking in a human body of flesh and blood, and he grew tired, and he was hungry, and experienced all of those things that we experience physically. So the next movement in the story is Jesus needed some food and some rest, so they take him home to the house of Simon Peter, bringing us to this next point, which is we need to bring Jesus home, because that's what they did. Bring him home. Don't leave Jesus at the church on Sunday morning. Take Jesus home with you. Hey, take Jesus to work with you.

Take Jesus wherever you go, and by that I mean invite him to be a part of every aspect of your life. What a privilege for Peter to come home and say to his wife, I have a special guest, dear Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Well, as it turns out, Peter's mother-in-law was very ill. Apparently, she lived with Peter and his wife, and yes, Peter was married, which is an important note, isn't it? She was very sick, and they told Jesus she needed to be touched, and so Jesus healed her in Mark 1 31, saying he took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. Well, news travels fast. All of the disciples shot out a quick tweet, and there were even some posts on Instagram.

Not really, but it sounds like it, because in moments, literally the whole city is there at the door. Mark 1 32. That evening after sunset, the people brought to Jesus.

All the sick and demon-possessed, the whole town gathered at the door. That brings us now to Mark Chapter 2, and Jesus is going to show the primary reason he came, not just to cast out demons, not just to heal the sick, not even to raise the dead. He was coming to forgive sins, and there's nothing more important than having your sin forgiven. As I say this, am I speaking to somebody right now who is not sure if their sin is forgiven? You're haunted by things you've done in your past.

It keeps you up at night. You've tried to self-medicate, as they say, with alcohol or drugs and numb yourself to the pain of what you've done and the harm and the pain you've brought into other people's lives. I want you to know God can forgive your sin, and I'm going to tell you how in a few moments. Now let's go over to Mark Chapter 2, verse 1. When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home.

Soon the house where he was staying was packed with visitors, and there was no more room even outside the door. While he was preaching the word, four men arrived, carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn't bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof right above his head, and they lowered the man on this mat right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, my child, your sins are forgiven. Bringing me to my next point, we need to work together if we want to bring our friends to Jesus. Four guys. They want to get their friend to Jesus.

He needs a physical touch. They can't get in the house. It's packed, wall to wall people, so they lower him to the roof. Now this is kind of hard for us to understand in the 21st century, but in the first century, the roofs were flat. There would be an outside staircase leading to the roof. Sometimes people would sit up on the roof like a little patio garden of sorts. So they get up on the roof, and they start digging through it, digging through the straw.

And meanwhile, here's Jesus inside the house speaking to his audience, listening to his every word. All of a sudden, a little dirt clod falls to the ground. A couple more fall.

Some straw comes down. A shaft of light breaks through. Another shaft of light comes through, and suddenly this man is on this mat with four guys with ropes, letting him down. He may be swinging back and forth a little bit, and he's put right in front of Jesus.

Maybe the guy laying there went, hey. And Jesus said, my child, your sins are forgiven you. But I love the fact that these guys work together. They cooperated. And if we want to see people come to Jesus, we need to work with fellow believers, because we need to join our efforts together, and we'll get a lot more done.

We are much stronger together than we are alone. You remember that story in Acts chapter 12, when Peter was arrested for preaching the gospel. And we read in Acts 12, one constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. They prayed. There's power when we pray together. Jesus says, if any two of you will agree together, touching anything in prayer, it will be done of your Father in heaven. The Bible also says, if two or more of you will gather together, Christ will be there in the midst.

So we need to pray together. My next point is, one prays, another shares, but God does the work. You know, when a person comes to Christ, it's a chain of events that connect together, resulting in a conversion. Maybe it's a seed sown in a heart during childhood.

Maybe that seed is watered a little bit later. Maybe they encounter a Christian they don't even know who says or does something that makes an impression on them. Then finally, someone takes the time to share the gospel. We're all part of a chain that God orchestrated to bring someone to the Lord. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3, verse 6, I planted, Apollos watered. Apollos was another preacher. But God gave the increase.

So neither he who plants is anything, nor he that waters. It's God that gives the increase. And notice that Jesus immediately got to the heart of this man's problem, because the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. This man needed his sin forgiven. It was even more important than being healed of his paralysis. A key manager, a famous psychologist, said if he could convince patients in the psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75 percent would walk out the next day.

Think of that. And Jesus can forgive sins. Now, they react properly. They say, wait, what do you mean your sins are forgiven you? And they ask the question, who can forgive sins but God alone?

And the answer is, no one. Some people would say, you know, Jesus never claimed to be God. His followers came up with that later.

That is not true. Jesus did claim to be God on multiple occasions, and this is one of them. If Jesus were not God, he would have said something along the lines of, that's a good point, and I'm not God. But no, he forgave that man's sins. In fact, in Mark 2 10, he says, I'll prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. And Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, stand up, pick up your man, and go home. That was a clear claim to deity. Jesus was God.

We don't want to miss that very important point. Pastor Greg Laurie is presenting insights from the first chapter of Mark today here on A New Beginning, part of a series called The Gospel for Busy People. And before we go any further, it's an important time to ask where you stand with the Lord. Have you asked Jesus to forgive your sins? Pastor Greg, what would you say to the person who would like to take care of that right now?

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. Why don't you just stop whatever it is you're doing and pray this prayer with me? 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, yeah, that's right. And listen, as you begin to live this new life, we want to send you something to help you get started off right. It's Pastor Greg's New Believers Bible. It's an easy-to-understand translation, plus hundreds and hundreds of study helps, especially for those who are new to the faith.

Millions of people have been helped by this resource. So get in touch for your own New Believers Bible. We'll send it to you free of charge. Just call 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Or go online to harvest.org and click on Know God. Well, it's a real joy to have New York Times bestselling author Lee Strobel with us today. You probably know him best because of his first book, The Case for Christ. But Lee, you've got a brand new book called Is God Real? Now, years ago, you were an atheist. You didn't believe God existed. What's the strongest evidence in your new book, the evidence that maybe on its own might have convinced you of the existence of God?

That's a great question. You know, looking back, I would have been convinced as an atheist that God exists based on discoveries of modern science. You know, scientists for centuries believed that the universe was eternal. It never began to exist. It always existed.

It was static. And yet, thanks to a series of scientific discoveries over the last 50 years, every scientist now believes virtually that the universe had a beginning at some point in the past. And that has led to a very powerful argument for the existence of God. It says whatever begins to exist has a cause. We now know that the universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause behind it. And then you ask, what kind of a cause can bring a universe into existence? Well, it must be transcendent because it's separate from creation, must be spirit because it existed before the physical world existed, must be eternal because he existed before physical time was brought into being, must be powerful given the immensity of the creation event, must be smart given the precision of the creation event, must be personal because he had to make the decision to create, must be creative because, my goodness, just look at this universe and how creative it is. He must be loving because he so carefully crafted a habitat where we could flourish in. And then the scientific principle of Occam's razor tells us there would be just one creator. So what have we got? Transcendent, spirit, eternal, powerful, smart, personal, creative, loving, unique. That is a description of the God of the Bible. And so if I just had that, and if I just had the other area of discoveries in recent decades in physics for the fine tuning of the universe, where scientists now believe that our universe is finely tuned on a razor's edge so that life can exist in a way that defies the explanation that it could have been just by mere chance.

I'll give you one example. There's about 50 to 100 parameters of the universe that have to be exactly precisely calibrated so that life can exist. One of them is the force of gravity. So we all know what gravity is. Well, if you imagine a ruler that goes across the entire known universe, 15 billion light year width of the universe broken down in one inch increments, that represents the plausible range along which the force of gravity could have been set anywhere along that ruler. And yet, it's set at the exact right place so that life can exist. What if we were to change it? What if we were to change it one inch compared to the 15 billion light year width of the universe?

Intelligent life would be impossible anywhere in the universe. So we have 50 to 100 of these parameters. And I asked one physicist, I said, Well, what are the odds this could have happened by chance? And he looked at me and he said, you know, we physicists have a term for that. I said, What?

He said, ain't gonna happen. And so, you know, if you just gave me as an atheist, these two areas of science, cosmology and physics personally, that would be enough to convince me that there is a God, a creator. So you're listening to Lee Strobel, and I bet that someone out there listening right now knows someone who at least claims to be an atheist. What a great tool to have in your hands and say, read this book called Is God Real?

Let's talk about it later. We would like to send it to you this month for your gift of any size. And we encourage you to be generous because whatever you send, we'll use that to continue to bring this radio broadcast to people that need to hear the word of God. So get your copy right now of Is God Real? by Lee Strobel.

Yeah, that's right. We'll be glad to send it your way to say thank you for your donation right now. Again, it's called Is God Real? Just go to harvest.org and look for that title. Or just give us a phone call at 1-800-821-3300.

Call anytime, day or night, 1-800-821-3300. Well, next time, more insight on the calling of Jesus to come follow me. More from Pastor Greg's series, The Gospel for Busy People. 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 / 2024-03-12 05:36:43 / 2024-03-12 05:46:29 / 10

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