Tag Archives: Greg Laurie

Greg Laurie – People of Purpose

When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.—Acts 11:23

Psychologist William Moulton Marston surveyed 3,000 people and asked them, “What do you have to live for?”

He was shocked to find that of the people who responded, 94 percent were simply enduring the present while they were waiting for the future. They described this as waiting for something to happen. They were waiting for children to grow up and leave home, waiting for next year, waiting for another time to take a dreamed-about trip. They were waiting for tomorrow.

We can spend our whole lives waiting for something to happen, and meanwhile, our lives are passing by. We have no purpose. We have no direction. We’re throwing them away.

As someone has said, “Some men die by shrapnel, and some go down in flames, but most men perish inch by inch, playing at little games.”

Purpose is vital. It’s an anchor in storm. It’s a base in battle.

We read in the New Testament that when Barnabas visited the believers in Antioch, he “encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (Acts 11:23).

Ephesians 2 describes us before our commitment to Christ: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (verses 1–2).

That’s how we lived. But then we found out there was a God. We discovered His Word. We found there were absolutes to live by in life—right and wrong, true and false, black and white. We became men and women of purpose.

Do other people know what you stand for? If you don’t stand for something, you are liable to fall for anything.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Greg Laurie – A Surprising Place for Spiritual Growth

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.—1 Corinthians 15:58

Sometimes we think the only place to flourish spiritually is in the midst of other Christians. We want to listen to Christian music, watch Christian television, and wear Christian clothes.

I’m not knocking those things. It’s great to be surrounded by Christians and to seek out fellowship with other believers. But you also can flourish spiritually in a difficult situation. Maybe you’re in a school where you’re not surrounded by people who love the Lord. Maybe you’re in a job where they say the name of God, but not the way you like to hear it. Or maybe you’re in some other situation where you’re saying, “I can’t survive here spiritually.”

It may be that He has you there for a reason. Or, you may need to move out of that place, and you will have to ask God to give you wisdom. But you can grow and sometimes even become stronger in an environment like that.

Daniel was a spiritual man in spite of the environment he was in. Carried away captive to Babylon, he could have easily fallen into compromise. There in the palace, he literally lived in the lap of luxury. It was a place of rampant idolatry, incredible cruelty, and sexual immorality. Yet in the midst of it all, Daniel remained a righteous man and flourished spiritually.

Sometimes when we are in an environment around Christians all the time, we can put our lives on spiritual cruise control. On the other hand, when we are in a secular environment, it forces us to do one of two things: either blend into the woodwork or stand up and be counted.

Persecution, which is harassment from nonbelievers, can cause us to draw closer to the Lord. So don’t give up. Take heart. Stand firm. He will see you through.

 

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Joyce Meyer – The Devil’s Lies

You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false.—John 8:44

The devil lies. In fact, the devil doesn’t know how to speak the truth.

Most Christians know that—and yet they still listen to his evil words. Sometimes the lies seem to just pop into our minds for no apparent reason; sometimes Satan even speaks to us through other people. He puts something critical or hurtful into their minds about us, and they speak it out for us to hear. If we listen and accept what we hear, our enemy rejoices. If we listen long enough to the deceptive information we have taken in, we will find ourselves facing serious problems.

Instead of listening and absorbing the untruths and satanic deceptions, you can look at what Jesus did and follow His example. After fasting for forty days in the wilderness, Satan tempted Him three times. Each time He defeated the devil by declaring, “It is written,” and quoting the Word of God. No wonder the devil fled from Him (see Matthew 4:1-11). Learn the truth of God’s Word, and every time Satan lies to you, quote a scripture back to him. Learn to talk back to the devil!

Too many people don’t know how to use the Word to defeat Satan’s lies. Many people—even Christians—don’t seem to realize that they can refuse to listen to that voice. Too many people don’t realize that the devil attacks their minds with negative or wrong thoughts. It’s his nature to lie; he is out to enslave everyone.

I encourage people to realize that they are not alone in their spiritual battles; their minds are not the only ones under attack. Satan comes against everyone. His entire goal is to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus came that we might have and enjoy our lives abundantly (see John 10:10). By becoming more conscious of the spiritual weapons the Lord has made available to us and learning how to use them, we can gain victory. We can break the strongholds the devil has built in our minds. The Bible tells us that when we know the truth, that truth will free us from Satan’s strongholds (see John 8:32).

Continue reading Joyce Meyer – The Devil’s Lies

Greg Laurie – Waiting for the Rat to Die

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.—Matthew 5:7

It’s been said, “To not forgive is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” If there is one thing we all could use more of these days, it’s forgiveness and mercy. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

In Jesus’ time, Roman culture did not value the virtue of mercy. A Roman philosopher said that mercy was the disease of the soul. The Romans glorified justice, courage, discipline, and power.

You may remember the scene from the film Gladiator where the Roman soldiers greeted one another with the phrase, “Strength and honor.” That is what the Romans valued: strength, force, and their own definition of honor. When a child was born into the Roman world, the father had the right of Patria Potestas. If he wanted the newborn to live, he held his thumb up. If he wanted the child to die, he held his thumb down, and the child was immediately drowned. Mercy was laughed at, mocked, and derided in that culture.

Our culture today does not really value mercy either. More often, we cry out for justice and, better yet, revenge. But God values mercy. What exactly is mercy? In Matthew 6:3, the word for mercy is used in the context of almsgiving. It means to help a person in need, to rescue the miserable. Mercy means, “A sense of pity, plus a desire to relieve that suffering.” It is not enough to simply say, “I feel your pain.” Mercy is meeting the need, not just feeling it. Real mercy is pity plus action! Anything you do that is of benefit to someone in need is considered mercy.

Again, Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. The more righteous a man is, the more merciful he will be. The more sinful a man is, the harsher and more critical he will be.

If I know anything of God’s forgiveness in my life, I will be forgiving. If I am not merciful, then one must question if I know anything of the mercy of God myself. Thomas Adams said, “He who demands mercy and shows none ruins the bridge over which he himself is to pass.”

Let’s try to show mercy to someone today.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Greg Laurie – A Righteous Judge

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. —Psalm 19:9

When it comes to God’s judgment, sometimes people will say they believe in a God who is not judgmental. That sounds good, but here is what they are really saying: “I believe in a God who doesn’t care about right and wrong.” To put it more bluntly, they are saying they believe in a God they just made up in their heads.

If God really is loving, then God also will be just. That is what the Bible tells us. The love of God makes Him a righteous judge. Know this: No one will be in heaven who deserves to be there. Nor will there be anyone in hell who does not deserve to be there. No one will be in heaven who went there unwillingly. And no one will be in hell who didn’t go there willingly.

God won’t force anyone to go to heaven. He won’t say, “Get up to heaven right now!” You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. On the other hand, no one will be in hell who did not go there willingly.

I like the way J. I. Packer summed it up: “Scripture sees hell as self-chosen. . . . Hell appears as God’s gesture of respect for human choice. All receive what they actually chose. Either to be with God forever, worshipping Him, or without God forever, worshipping themselves.”

How could a God of love send people to hell? He doesn’t. He won’t. If you end up in hell, then you went there willingly because you rejected His offer of forgiveness. You rejected Jesus Christ and all that He did for you. But if you ask God to forgive you of your sin, He will remove it from you and give you a change, a transformation in your life. You will be born again.

 

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Joyce Meyer – Sometimes Love Is Just Being Friendly

 

This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you.- John 15:12

God has blessed us with many things, and when our heart is right, we are thankful for each blessing. But we can do more than just be thankful. We can demonstrate that gratitude by deciding to use the blessings in our lives to be a blessing to others everywhere we go.

You can do this in big ways or in small ways, but doing it always blesses someone else. You’ll be amazed at the results. One way you can be a blessing is just by being friendly. Make a real effort to be friendly with people everywhere you go and show a genuine interest in them. Try to make shy people feel comfortable and confident. Try giving a kind word to encourage someone who seems to be down. There are countless ways we can be a blessing if we think about it creatively. Don’t let the sun set on any day without reaching out in some way to someone else.

Prayer of Thanks: Father, I am so thankful, not just for the countless blessings You have given me, but for the chance to share those blessings with others. I pray that You will show me new and creative ways to be friendly and encouraging to someone today.

From the book The Power of Being Thankful by Joyce Meyer.

 

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Greg Laurie – How Unforgiveness Hurts You

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.—Ephesians 4:32

If you’re someone who holds grudges, if you keep score and can’t let things go, then you need to know something: You will suffer in life. You also will see your prayer life come to a screeching halt.

Forgiveness is the key to all healthy, strong, and lasting relationships. That’s why we must realize how important it is to forgive. Jesus said, “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God” (Matthew 5:23–24).

Maybe you’ve decided that you won’t forgive someone who has wronged you. Guess who will be the one to get hurt? You will. Harboring resentment and unforgiveness will hurt you more than the person you’re refusing to forgive. If you want to be healthy and vibrant spiritually, then you must learn to forgive.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12).

You may think they don’t deserve forgiveness. But do you? Do I? No, we don’t. Our forgiveness doesn’t hinge on forgiving others, but forgiving others should hinge on God’s gracious and generous forgiveness toward us.

The forgiveness that comes to us from Christ is based on His merit and on His death and His love for us. If we know anything about what Christ has done for us, then we should forgive others.

The Bible says, “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Forgiven people should be forgiving people. And if you want to be healthy and vibrant spiritually, then you must learn to forgive.

 

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Greg Laurie – Forgiven? Then Forgive

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.—Matthew 6:12

The feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys was one of the longest running feuds in American history. One family lived in West Virginia, the other in Kentucky, on opposite sides of the Big Sandy River’s Tug Fork. Conflicts developed, one person was killed, and then another. And by the time it was over, more than two dozen people were dead.

Our society doesn’t value forgiveness. In fact, forgiveness is often seen as a sign of weakness, not strength. Our culture esteems vengeance and payback. We believe in the old adage “Don’t get mad; get even.”

But in what we know as The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

The word debt in this verse could be better translated “sins.” In other words, forgive us our sins—or our trespasses or our shortcomings or our resentments or the wrong we have done or what we owe to Him.

Contrary to what we may think, we don’t go through a day without sinning. Even if we might not break a commandment of God, we certainly fall short of a standard of God. We have sinful thoughts and attitudes. We commit sins of omission, failing to do good when we could have done it. The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

We need to ask God every day to forgive us for our sins. And as we receive that forgiveness, we should also extend it to others. According to Jesus, our generous and constant forgiveness of others should be the natural result of our understanding of the forgiveness God has extended to us.

To put it simply, forgiven people ought to be forgiving people.

 

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Ray Stedman – A Debt of Love

Read: Romans 13:8-10

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

Have you ever struggled to obey the Ten Commandments? Have you found it difficult to face up to obeying these demands that you shall not murder or lie or steal or commit adultery? Well, Paul says it is really simple. All you have to do is love. Act in love toward people and you won’t hurt them. The solution to all the problems we struggle with is this one thing. Have you ever thought of what would happen in this world if people could be taught how to love — and then they did it?

The first result that occurs to me is that all the impending divorces would be happily resolved. Couples ready to split up because love has left their marriage could go back together and learn how to work it out. Furthermore, if we could teach people how to love we wouldn’t fight in wars. Think of how much energy and money is being expended in keeping up this endless array of armaments simply because we can’t trust people to love each other. If we could love each other, there wouldn’t be any more crime. The streets of all the great cities of our land you would feel safe and secure. If there weren’t any crime, you wouldn’t need any prisons. All the money we spend on prisons and reformatories could be spent on something more useful. We wouldn’t need any courts of law, or police. We need all these things because we are so deprived in this ability to love.

This passage is telling us that the ability to love — that and nothing less than that — is the radical force that Jesus Christ has turned loose in this world by his resurrection. Therefore it has the power to radically change the world. Paul implies that this has to start with us. If we are Christians, if we know Jesus Christ, we have the power to love. You don’t have to ask for it; you’ve got it. If you have Christ, you can act in love, even though you are tempted not to. Therefore, Paul says: When you come up against difficult people, remember that your first obligation is to love them.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – A Debt of Love

Greg Laurie – A Prayer for the Enemy

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.—Matthew 5:44

The first statement Jesus made from the cross was, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). Maybe we would have understood it more if He had said, “Father, condemn them,” or “Father, judge them.” But the first thing Jesus said from the cross was a prayer for His enemies: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Jesus was practicing what He preached. Remember, in the Sermon on the Mount He said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). And Jesus also was fulfilling a Messianic prophesy. Isaiah 53, written hundreds of years before Christ died, said that the Messiah would make intercession for the transgressors. And that is exactly what Jesus was doing. He was interceding for all the people who played a role in His death.

Pilate himself knew Jesus was innocent. He said, “I find no fault in this Man” (Luke 23:4). But because he was so concerned about his career and position, he would not pardon Jesus and let Him go. The religious rulers knew that no legitimate charge could be brought against Christ. Even the Roman centurion at the cross said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39). Judas Iscariot knew he had done wrong, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4).

So Jesus was essentially saying, “Father, forgive them. They don’t realize how bad this is. Forgive them, because they need forgiveness so desperately. Forgive them, for they have committed a sin that is beyond all comprehension. Forgive them, for they have done something that is beyond bad. Father, forgive them.”

When was the last time you prayed for your enemies?

 

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Greg Laurie – The Power of Forgiveness

David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the LORD’S army and the nation of Israel, because they had died by the sword that day.—2 Samuel 1:11–12

If an enemy who had opposed you for years was finally dealt with, what would be your first thought? I doubt it would be how to show kindness to that person or to members of his or her family. Generally, we want to give the way that we get. If we get hit, we want to hit back—even harder. That is human nature.

But David had made a promise to Saul’s son Jonathan, and he was a man of his word. He would look out for Jonathan’s children and show mercy and kindness to his descendants.

After Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle, there was no king over Israel. David was the rightful king, but the battle continued between the house of David and the house of Saul. Saul had a son named Ishbosheth, and Abner, Saul’s general, made him king. He ignored the fact that God had chosen David as Saul’s successor.

Then Abner and Ishbosheth had an argument, and Abner threatened to defect. Sure enough, he went over to David’s side. But there were problems with that because Joab, David’s general, hated Abner. He couldn’t believe that David would allow Abner into their ranks. This escalated, and Joab ultimately hunted down Abner and killed him.

David was outraged. He was tired of the fighting and wanted it to end. He didn’t want to deal with his enemies in the way they had dealt with him. He wanted to forgive them.

David could have engaged in some big-time payback. But he did the very opposite. Even before all of the experts figured it out, David knew the power of forgiveness.

Was David a perfect man? No. Did he have his flaws? Yes. But God loved David. And He uniquely described him as a man after His own heart.

 

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Greg Laurie – Forgiven People

Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.—Matthew 6:12

On December 1, 1997, about a dozen students were gathered together for their daily prayer meeting at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky. As they said their final “Amen,” a 14-year-old boy suddenly walked up and opened fire on the group. Three of the students died, while five others were seriously wounded. The irony of the situation was that a number of these students had actually befriended this young man.

In the midst of this tragedy, an amazing story of forgiveness emerged. As she lay in the hospital, one of the injured girls—15-year-old Melissa Jenkins—was informed that she most likely would be a paraplegic for the rest of her life. Melissa wanted to convey a message to the teenage boy who shot her.

What do you think her message was? Did she say she hated him or that he would get his in the end? No. This is not what she had to say. This Christian teenage girl said she forgave him.

Only a Christian can do something like that. It is not a natural thing to do. Rather, it’s supernatural. That is one of the amazing things about true followers of Jesus: they have the capacity to forgive people.

Understand that if you are a Christian, then you—like Melissa Jenkins—need to learn how to forgive as well. In fact, to not forgive someone is an outright sin. If you don’t forgive a person who has sinned against you, then you are sinning against God. To say that you are a Christian, but that you refuse to forgive, is a contradiction in terms.

If you are an unforgiving Christian, then one must question how much you know about Christianity. Jesus constantly pressed this issue. His sermons, His parables, His private talks, even His prayers, were often filled with lessons about forgiveness. You would be blind to miss this point.

 

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Greg Laurie – Reasons to Forgive

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.—Ephesians 4:31–32

Without even knowing you, I know this about you: You have been hurt in life. You have had people say unkind things to you. You have had people do mean things to you. There have been incidents in your life where you’ve been treated unfairly.

Some want to rationalize that there is no need to forgive those who have wronged them because they don’t deserve forgiveness. But they have to ask themselves whether they deserve forgiveness themselves. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”

Here is what the Bible has to say about forgiving those who have wronged us: “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:30–32).

God’s command to forgive should be enough. But let me offer another reason why we should learn to be forgiving: it might actually extend our lives. Recent studies have suggested that those who do not forgive are more likely to experience high blood pressure, bouts of depression, and problems with anger, stress, and anxiety. Dr. Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, a researcher at Hope College, said “If you are willing to exert the effort it takes to be forgiving, there are benefits both emotionally and physically.”

People who have been studying the medical benefits of forgiveness have come to the same conclusion that the Bible came to long ago: it is a good thing to forgive others.

 

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Greg Laurie – Little Messes

Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'” —Luke 19:45–46

My wife Cathe and I are polar opposites when it comes to cleaning. My approach could be summed up by the procrastinator’s motto: Never do today what you could put off until tomorrow. Cathe’s approach is to constantly clean and organize so that over time, little messes don’t become big ones. Obviously, her approach is the better one.

In Luke 19, we find the story of Jesus’ cleaning the house of God as He went into the temple and drove out the moneychangers. These temple merchants were taking advantage of people and keeping them from God, and this angered Jesus.

This is the second time in Scripture when Jesus cleansed the temple. In the gospel of John, we read that He used a whip to drive out the moneychangers. Little messes turned into big messes, so Jesus arrived to clean house again.

I believe there is a parallel to our own lives. When we come to Christ initially, we ask for His forgiveness and He pardons us of all our iniquities. In fact, we are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” What a wonderful thing it is to realize that God has forgiven us of all our sin. But as a little time passes, sometimes some of those old sins can find their way back into our lives. And that so-called “little” sin begins to grow and becomes a problem.

Does your temple need cleansing? Are there some things in your life that shouldn’t be there right now? Are there some vices, some bad habits that have found their way back into your life? If so, deal with them now. Don’t let little messes turn into big ones.

 

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Greg Laurie – Empty Net Syndrome

Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.—John 21:3

It was déjà vu time for the disciples. They had been fishing all night on the Sea of Galilee and hadn’t caught anything. The Lord had risen and had already appeared to some of the disciples. There were no clear marching orders, so they thought they would go back to what they knew how to do: fish. Now it was early in the morning, probably still dark. They saw a figure standing on the shore. “He called out, ‘Fellows, have you caught any fish?'” (John 21:5).

Throughout the Bible, God often asked probing questions when He wanted a confession. In the same way, Jesus was asking His disciples, “Did you catch anything? Have you been successful? Have things gone the way you had hoped they would go? Are you satisfied?”

Why did Jesus want them to admit their failure? So He could bring them to the place where they needed to be. When they cast the net on the right side of the boat as Jesus told them to, their net became so heavy with fish that they couldn’t pull it in. The Lord was teaching the disciples an important lesson: Failure often can be the doorway to real success.

We need to come to that point in our lives as well. We need to come and say, “Lord, I am not satisfied with the way my life is going. I am tired of doing it my way. I want to do it Your way.” If you will come to God like that, He will extend His forgiveness to you. Then He will take your life and transform it in ways you couldn’t imagine.

 

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Greg Laurie – Against All Odds

Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.—2 Chronicles 20:3

Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, faced a dilemma. His enemies greatly outnumbered him. To make matters worse, his enemies had joined forces with the other enemies of Israel and were coming to destroy him. One day, someone came to King Jehoshaphat and warned him that a gigantic army was headed his way, bent on his destruction. It was hopeless. There was no way that he could meet this army with what he had. He was going to be destroyed. What did Jehoshaphat do? The Bible says that he “set himself to seek the Lord.” He prayed, “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NKJV).

The Lord told Jehoshaphat, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you” (2 Chronicles 20:15–17 NKJV).

Jehoshaphat and his army went out to meet their enemies, but they put the worship team out front. The Bible says that when they began to sing and praise the Lord, the enemy started fighting among themselves and destroyed each other.

Maybe you are facing what seems like an impossible situation right now. You may not be able to see a way out. But God can. Call on Him. Then stand still and see what He will do.

 

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Greg Laurie – Wanted: Disciplemakers

Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.—Acts 9:27

Sometimes new Christians have a difficult time finding their way in their newfound faith. They need someone who will stand with them and love them.

A guy named Mark did this for me. After I came to Christ on my high school campus, no one came up to me afterward and said, “Now Greg, you are a brand-new Christian. We have this Bible here for you. You also need to start going to church.” Instead, the school bell rang, and I went back to class.

I went on with my plan for that weekend, which was to go off into the mountains and smoke dope. But as I was sitting out on a rock and getting ready to do this, I felt God was speaking to my heart and telling me I didn’t need to do that. Although I didn’t know how to pray, I asked God to make Himself real to me and to help me. And God answered that prayer.

When I returned to school on Monday, some guy named Mark, whom I had never seen before, walked up to me and introduced himself. He told me that he had seen me give my life to Christ at the Bible study on Friday. Then he invited me to church, and, in a very direct but loving way, he wouldn’t take no for an answer. So I went to church with Mark. I started hearing the Word of God, and my life started to change.

I didn’t need a Bible scholar. I didn’t need an evangelist. But I did need a friend. And that is what Mark was for me.

So here is my question for you: Can you be a friend to someone? Because our commission is not only to preach the gospel, but to make disciples.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Greg Laurie – The Son of Encouragement

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer!—Acts 9:26

When Saul left Damascus, he returned to Jerusalem, where he had presided over the martyrdom of Stephen. Did he receive a hero’s welcome from his fellow believers? Did they hear he had become a believer and say, “The notorious Christian-killer, Saul, is one of us now. Let’s welcome him”?

No. They didn’t even believe he had been converted.

I wonder how many this is true of today. They come to Christ and attend church for the first time, and no one welcomes them. Maybe they get a cold shoulder from someone. Maybe they get a mean look. Maybe they wore the wrong T-shirt with the wrong slogan that day.

Come on. Can we be patient with people? Can we recognize that when someone is a new believer, they will be a little rough around the edges? What are we are expecting? I wonder if we have people like Saul who come into our churches and never make that transition.

In Saul’s life, that is where Barnabas came in. (By the way, the name Barnabas means “son of encouragement”). “Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus” (Acts 9:27).

Apparently Barnabas had some credibility with the apostles, because they seemed to accept what he had to say. He put it all on the line and backed Saul’s story because it was true.

We need more people like Barnabas today—people who know how to lift someone up, people who know how to comfort a person and motivate a person. That is what Barnabas did for Saul. And that is what we need to do as well.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Greg Laurie – A Forgotten Hero

So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”—Acts 9:17

A discovery every Christian eventually makes is who their real friends are. That is a discovery Saul of Tarsus made when he first became a follower of Christ. He had no real friends, but what he did have was a brother in Christ named Ananias. And in time, he would discover a whole new family.

Charles Swindoll, in his excellent book, Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, writes, “Ananias has been called one of the forgotten heroes of the faith. Indeed he is. There are countless numbers of them serving Christ behind the scenes the world over.”

You see, with such men as Ananias doing their part, Saul could now do his. Acts 9:20–21 tells us, “And immediately [Saul] began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is indeed the Son of God!’ All who heard him were amazed. . . .”

They couldn’t believe that Saul of Tarsus was not only a believer, but now a preacher. And Saul quickly found out who his true friends and enemies were: “After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him” (verse 23).

God had been preparing Saul. Saul was ready for this job assignment. He was raised in a Roman city. He understood the thinking of the Roman mind. He was steeped in Greek culture, yet he was raised in a strict Jewish home. He was a powerful thinker and communicator. And now he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was a force to be reckoned with.

Ananias had never preached any sermons that we know of. We don’t know of any miracles that were performed through his hands. He never wrote an epistle. But he reached a man who did all of those things and much more. And if we had more Ananiases, we would have more Pauls.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Greg Laurie – Take a Risk

But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.”—Acts 9:15

Saul had no idea what had just happened to him. After hearing the voice of Jesus on the Damascus Road, he fell to the ground, blinded by a searing light that penetrated the sun. Then he was led to the home of a man named Judas (no relation to Judas Iscariot).

Enter Ananias, the unsung hero. God told him in a vision,

“Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” (Acts 9:11–12)

But Ananias had his doubts. He said, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name” (verses 13–14).

You can understand Ananias’ reticence. Saul was a notorious hunter of Christians. Saul had consented to Stephen’s murder. Yet God said, “Go.”

Do you know someone right now whom you cannot imagine ever becoming a Christian? That is what it was like when Saul of Tarsus came to Christ.

Sometimes God will put a burden on your heart. You will see someone, and there will be a burden from God that you ought to talk to that person. Of course, if God says go, we can say no. God said “Go” to Jonah, and he said no at first. But eventually he went, dragging his feet.

Are you going to be a Jonah or an Ananias? When the Lord says, “Go,” are you going to fight it? Or, will you be an Ananias? Just go. Do it. Take a risk.

 

https://www.harvest.org/