Tag Archives: harvest ministries

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – The Most Unlikely Spiritual Awakening

 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me. 

—Jonah 1:2

Scripture:

Jonah 1:2 

One of the largest spiritual awakenings in human history swept one of the most wicked cities ever, the city of Nineveh.

The people of Nineveh were so bad that they effectively stunk to high heaven. The first chapter of Jonah tells us, “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me’” (verses 1–2 NKJV).

We could translate the phrase “their wickedness has come up before Me” to say, “Their wickedness has reached the highest pitch.”

The Ninevites’ cruelty was legendary. Historical records include graphic accounts of how they treated their captives. When the Ninevites plundered a city, they burned children alive, tortured adults, and even skinned people and hung their skin on the walls. They built monuments out of the skulls of those they beheaded.

We can see why the city stunk to high heaven.

Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, a superpower of the day. With the strongest military power, Assyria had essentially ruled the world for two hundred years. But things were about to change. A more powerful military was about to overtake Nineveh and Assyria. Effectively the days of this nation were numbered.

Every nation’s days are numbered. We know this historically. Every nation has a moment when it is born and a moment when it dies—or is diminished dramatically. And that is true for the United States of America.

We know that judgment is coming. It is only a matter of time. So, let’s pray that God will send at least one more spiritual awakening to our nation before judgment comes. If God could bring a mighty revival in Nineveh, then certainly He could do the same for the United States.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Sorry Enough to Change

 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death 

—2 Corinthians 7:10

Scripture:

2 Corinthians 7:10 

Sometimes we confuse remorse or regret with repentance. The person who gets caught in a lie is sorry. The criminal who gets arrested is sorry. But are they repentant? I don’t know. Maybe the person who lied will just be more careful the next time. And the criminal will plot his next crime with more foresight. But that isn’t repentance.

For example, Exodus 9 tells us that Pharaoh, who was hardened in his sin, acknowledged the sin existed. He called for Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked” (verse 27 NKJV).

That’s good, but then he continued to sin against God, and ultimately God judged him. He never came to faith.

Saul, the king of Israel, said at one point, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord” (1 Samuel 15:24 NKJV). But does that mean he changed his life? No. He continued as he had been living, and he threw his life away.

The Bible also tells us about a rich, young ruler who approached Jesus, wanting to know how to have eternal life. Jesus gave him the answer, and he went away sorrowful but not repentant.

Even Judas Iscariot was sorry because he betrayed Jesus. But he didn’t do anything with that sorrow. His sorrow did not lead to repentance.

It isn’t enough to be sorry. We must do something about it.

The Bible says that “godly sorrow produces repentance.” Repentance means that we are willing to change. Repentance means being sorry enough to stop.

It is not enough to be sorry. God’s people need to repent of the sins they have committed. Are you ready to turn your back on sin and follow Jesus? He will give you the strength to do what He has called you to do.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – The Need for Personal Repentance

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear. 

—Psalm 66:18

Scripture:

Psalm 66:18 

I wonder whether people even know what shame is anymore. The things that once embarrassed us are being proclaimed as virtues today. Everything is upside down. Wrong has become right. Right has become wrong. And we’ve forgotten how to blush.

This is what Daniel was describing when he prayed, “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You” (Daniel 9:8 NKJV). And Daniel personally repented.

Throughout the Book of Daniel, we don’t read of Daniel sinning. That doesn’t mean he lived a sin-free life, because he was human like the rest of us. But Daniel lived a godly life. And this man of God thought it was necessary to personally repent because he didn’t want unconfessed sin to get in the way of his relationship with God.

This reminds us that the closer we get to God, the greater the sense of our own sinfulness will be. Just about the time you think you’re reaching spiritual maturity, God will show you a little more of your heart, and you will realize how far you have to go.

The more you know of the Lord, the more you will see that you still need to change. There isn’t some spiritual plateau where we finally will be above it all. It isn’t going to happen in this life.

The more you grow, the more you will realize that you need to grow more. The more you learn, the more you will realize that you need to learn more. But it’s a great pursuit.

Is there any sin that you need to repent of? Is there any area of your life that is displeasing to the Lord? Don’t allow it to get in the way of your relationship with God. Get rid of it. Let it go.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Drying Up Spiritually

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 

—Revelation 2:5

Scripture:

Revelation 2:5 

When we talk about the need for revival in our country, we must first individually ask ourselves these questions: Am I personally revived? Am I living as a committed, on-fire follower of Jesus Christ?

If we are not, then we’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Here’s what Jesus said to the church of Ephesus in the Book of Revelation: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (2:2–4 NKJV).

It’s clear they weren’t lazy. They were discerning, persevering believers. And they were making a difference. But Jesus was saying, “That’s all great, but we have a problem here. You have left your first love.”

What does that mean? It means that in spite of all their activity, they had lost that first passion when Jesus was their highest priority. They still believed. They hadn’t abandoned their faith. But they were spiritually drying up. They were leaving their first love, and they needed to be revived.

Jesus went on to give them the three Rs of revival: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent” (verse 5 NKJV).

Remember. Repent. Repeat. Remember from where you have fallen. Repent and do the first works. And repeat. Go back and do what you did before.

Let’s remember the three Rs of revival and put them into practice, because we need to be revived before God. We need a personal revival.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – How Revivals Start

Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. 

—Jeremiah 6:16

Scripture:

Jeremiah 6:16 

The first-century church, the one that Jesus started, turned their world upside down. They set their world on fire.

On the other hand, the church of today, which is much larger than the first-century church, has considerable resources and technology to use. Yet it seems as though the world is turning the church upside down.

Why aren’t we setting the world on fire? It’s because we need a revival. We need an awakening.

Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, God said, “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way isand walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16 NKJV).

Historically, revivals often began with one person who decided to do something. For example, in 1857, businessman Jeremiah Lanphier decided to start a prayer meeting on Fulton Street in downtown New York. Only a handful of people showed up to pray at the first meeting on September 23.

But Lanphier was persistent, and they kept meeting for prayer. Then something dramatic took place. The stock market crashed, and suddenly the prayer meeting grew. Then prayer meetings began popping up throughout New York City. And within six months, ten thousand people were gathering for prayer throughout the city, calling on the name of the Lord.

Within eighteen months of that first prayer meeting on Fulton Street, an estimated one million people had come to faith in Jesus Christ. It wasn’t orchestrated. It wasn’t a campaign planned by people. Rather, it was a work of God in which He poured out His Spirit. We need to see that today.

Any genuine revival will bring about repentance in the lives of the people, a change in the community, and evangelism en masse.

Jeremiah Lanphier was not a preacher. He wasn’t famous. He was an ordinary person who decided to pray. And you can do the same.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Getting Back to God’s Original Design

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 

—Psalm 51:12

Scripture:

Psalm 51:12 

At my house we have electronic gadgets, like most people do, and each one has an alarm. The microwave signals when my food is ready. An alarm on the dryer lets me know that it’s time to take the clothes out. The printer signals when it’s out of paper.

And all these gadgets also have error codes. When an error code appears, I have to consult the user’s manual to find out what’s wrong. Then I’ll try to correct the problem.

I think there are multiple error codes flashing across the United States today. We’re standing at a crossroads. We have never been in worse shape morally. Crime continues to explode. Families continue to splinter. And the fabric of society continues to unravel.

Meanwhile, God has given us His user’s manual for life: the Word of God, the Bible. It tells us what to do when a society unravels. And what we need today in America—and around the globe—is a far-reaching, Heaven-sent revival.

The word revive means “to restore to original condition.” A lot of people today like to restore old cars, and they’re sticklers about original paint and original parts. They want the original equipment.

In the same way, to be spiritually revived means to get back to God’s original design. Charles Finney, who was part of a great revival, described it this way: “Revival is nothing more or less than a new beginning of obedience to God.”

A real revival isn’t something that we start or stop; it’s something that God supernaturally does. There are times in history when God has intervened. Each of these divine interventions has come during a very dark time when there was a moral breakdown. Then God, in His grace, stepped in and brought about a spiritual awakening.

We need a real revival today. We need to see God work because our nation needs it as never before.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – God’s Recipe for Revival

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 

—Psalm 139:23–24

Scripture:

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln said, “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. . . . But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”

One person in the Oval Office, in Congress, or on the Supreme Court cannot get to the deepest part of America’s problems. That is because our deepest problems are spiritual. And the only hope for America is a spiritual awakening.

God gave us His recipe for revival when He said, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV).

There’s an interesting nuance regarding the word “pray.” Of the twelve Hebrew words employed to address this verb, the one in this verse means “to judge self habitually.”

God didn’t say, “If My people who are called by My name will love themselves . . .” We already do that. Rather, God was saying that we need to judge ourselves.

That means we are to come into God’s presence and say, “Lord, if there is anything in my life that is displeasing to You, show it to me.” Like the psalmist, we should pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24 NKJV).

We are to set aside our own aims, goals, ambitions, and desires in life, giving up our own wills. That is what it is to follow Jesus.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – We’re in This Together

Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 

—Ephesians 4:3

Scripture:

Ephesians 4:3 

When you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you become part of the church. You are a part of the body of Christ. And because we’re all together in this new family, we should do nothing to unnecessarily disrupt it.

In Ephesians 4 the apostle Paul used the human body to illustrate the church. He wrote, “For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all” (verses 4–6 NLT).

Paul was saying that we need to keep unity in the church. For instance, all the parts of your body need to work together. Your brain sends signals to your hands, and your hands do thus and so, working together. You don’t want your hands to break loose and do their own thing.

In the same way, the church must work together as a body. We are part of the body of Christ, and we need to cooperate with each other.

However, Paul wasn’t saying that it doesn’t matter what we believe as long as we work together. Sometimes in our desire for unity, we can end up embracing the wrong people and the wrong beliefs.

We do not want to have unity with someone who doesn’t believe in the essentials of the Christian faith. That doesn’t mean we’re rude. We can disagree and still be pleasant.

But unity between brothers and sisters in Christ is a different issue. We might have differing viewpoints on the order of prophetic events or some other thing. But we shouldn’t break fellowship over that. We build our unity on the truth of what we have learned in Scripture, on the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Lopsided Christians

 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 

—1 John 3:3

Scripture:

1 John 3:3 

I’ve met people who have an impressive knowledge of the Bible, know Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, and have a vast knowledge of history. They dazzle you with what they know. But their personal life is in shambles.

They can’t keep a marriage together. They can’t live right before God. And they’re always falling into sin and different troubles. The problem is they’re imbalanced. They have the knowledge. They have the doctrine. And if you were to sit down and talk with them, they would know far more than you may know. But their life is out of balance.

I’ve seen this sometimes with people who love to study Bible prophecy. It’s almost like a hobby for them. Understand, I’m a firm believer in the imminent return of Jesus Christ. I believe the rapture of the church could happen at any time. But some people, in their zeal to see Bible prophecy fulfilled, jump to conclusions.

With that said, there are Christians who are lopsided in another way. They don’t know much doctrinally or what the Bible teaches on certain subjects, but they’re passionate about their faith in Jesus Christ. You might hear them say things like, “Let’s not quibble over doctrine. I just love Jesus.”

That sounds nice, but it’s a dangerous statement. The Bible clearly teaches that in the last days there will be false Christs, false gospels, and even false miracles. If we’re not careful, we might end up loving the wrong Jesus. We might end up believing the wrong gospel. That is where doctrine comes in.

We need the balance of having both areas working together. The Bible tells us, “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3 NKJV).

We can have an understanding and belief in prophecy and facts and figures. But if it isn’t affecting the way we’re living, then we’re missing the point.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Lead a Worthy Life

 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. 

—Ephesians 4:1

Scripture:

Ephesians 4:1 

I don’t have many childhood memories, but one has stuck with me for quite some time. I was a toddler, and one of my cousins stole my tricycle. With my toddler brain, I reasoned that if I reached my fingers into the spokes and grabbed them, the tricycle would stop.

You can guess what happened. The tricycle didn’t stop, and it felt as though I’d broken every finger. I screamed and cried for a long time.

I certainly don’t have memories of when I took my first steps, but I do remember when both of my sons took their first steps. My son Jonathan fell so many times when he was learning to walk that he had a permanent bruise on his forehead. He would fall, the bruise would start to heal, and then he would fall again. He had bruises on top of bruises.

Walking spiritually can be like that, especially when we’re taking our first steps as new believers. We stumble and fall, we get up, and then we stumble and fall again. It is all part of growing spiritually.

The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus about how to walk spiritually. Walking speaks of effort and having direction with a destination in mind. It speaks of steady motion, regularity, consistency, activity, movement, and progress.

And in Ephesians 4, Paul said, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (verse 1 NKJV).

From the original language, the word “worthy” could be translated as “to balance the scales.” It can be applied to anything that is expected to correspond to something else. Paul was saying there needs to be a balance between our belief and our practice.

Our doctrine and belief should affect us in the way that we live.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Lead a Worthy Life

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. 

—Ephesians 4:1

Scripture:

Ephesians 4:1 

I don’t have many childhood memories, but one has stuck with me for quite some time. I was a toddler, and one of my cousins stole my tricycle. With my toddler brain, I reasoned that if I reached my fingers into the spokes and grabbed them, the tricycle would stop.

You can guess what happened. The tricycle didn’t stop, and it felt as though I’d broken every finger. I screamed and cried for a long time.

I certainly don’t have memories of when I took my first steps, but I do remember when both of my sons took their first steps. My son Jonathan fell so many times when he was learning to walk that he had a permanent bruise on his forehead. He would fall, the bruise would start to heal, and then he would fall again. He had bruises on top of bruises.

Walking spiritually can be like that, especially when we’re taking our first steps as new believers. We stumble and fall, we get up, and then we stumble and fall again. It is all part of growing spiritually.

The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus about how to walk spiritually. Walking speaks of effort and having direction with a destination in mind. It speaks of steady motion, regularity, consistency, activity, movement, and progress.

And in Ephesians 4, Paul said, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (verse 1 NKJV).

From the original language, the word “worthy” could be translated as “to balance the scales.” It can be applied to anything that is expected to correspond to something else. Paul was saying there needs to be a balance between our belief and our practice.

Our doctrine and belief should affect us in the way that we live.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Losing Yourself and Finding God’s Best

 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. 

—Luke 14:33

Scripture:

Luke 14:33 

When Jesus said, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple,” did He mean that Christians must take a vow of poverty and give away every possession?

No. Jesus was saying that we need to surrender our claim to our possessions. It simply means that we understand the ID tags on all that we have are not ours; they’re God’s.

It means that you recognize it is the Lord’s family that He has given you. It is the Lord’s life that you are the steward of. They are the Lord’s resources that you are spending. It is the Lord’s house that He has given to you.

The Bible says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20 NKJV).

We surrender our claim and say, “Lord, it belongs to You. What do You want me to do?” Then we pursue the path that He has for us.

The apostle Paul summed it up well when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NKJV).

The crucified life really means one thing: dying to self. It means losing yourself and, in the process, finding yourself. Through death you find life.

What it doesn’t mean is that we will be miserable and unable to live life to its fullest. It means the opposite. When we discover God’s plan for us, life becomes what it was meant to be.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – The Crucified Life

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 

—Luke 14:27

Scripture:

Luke 14:27 

It can sound quite daunting and very unappealing to say, “I’m taking up the cross.”

If we hear someone say they’re living the crucified life, we might think, “I don’t want to hang out with that person. They’re not going to be any fun. They’re never going to laugh or want to do anything enjoyable. I don’t want to live like that. The crucified life sounds restrictive and oppressive.”

But that isn’t the way it is. In fact, it’s the very opposite of the truth.

Jesus said, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27 NKJV). A disciple must take up the cross and follow Jesus.

There are people today who say they are trying to find themselves. Some will abandon their spouses and children because they want to go find themselves.

Jesus also said, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39 NKJV). Jesus was saying that if you want to find yourself, then lose yourself. If you want to find the purpose of life, meaning, and even personal happiness, then lose yourself.

You come to God and say, “Father, here is my life. Here are my plans, aspirations, and dreams, along with my weaknesses, shortcomings, and sins. I offer it all to You. I believe that Your plans are better than mine.”

Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, God said, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).

God’s plans for us are good, so we can dedicate our lives to Him. If we will live the crucified life, if we will take up the cross, then we will find life.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – A Prerequisite for Discipleship

 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 

—Luke 14:26

Scripture:

Luke 14:26 

The popularity of Jesus was exploding. Everybody wanted to be near Him. But He could see there were a lot of individuals who didn’t understand what it really meant to be His disciples. He knew that a lot of them were nothing more than fair-weather followers.

One day Jesus turned to the adoring masses and laid out the criteria for what it means to be His disciples. His words still ring true for us today.

These perhaps were among the most solemn and searching words that ever fell from the lips of Jesus Christ. And this is the only time He explained the severity of His terms for disciples.

He began, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26 NKJV).

A statement like that sounds shocking to us today. Why is Jesus asking us to hate members of our families and even our own lives?

In the light of the New Testament, Jesus was not demanding an unqualified hatred. After all, He would not command us to honor our fathers and mothers and then tell us to hate them. Nor would He command husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and then tell them to hate their wives. And He wouldn’t tell His followers to love their enemies and then hate them.

Jesus essentially was saying, “Are you willing to be more than just a fair-weather friend?”

If you really want to be His disciple and live the Christian life to its fullest, then you must love Jesus more than anyone or anything else.

In what seems to be a paradoxical statement, there is very clear logic: by loving God more than anyone else, we develop a new love for others that we have never known.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Take the Next Step

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. 

—1 Peter 2:2

Scripture:

1 Peter 2:2 

It’s always amazing to watch a baby grow. Babies start with milk for nourishment, then move to baby food, and then are fed digestible adult food. And eventually they graduate to feeding themselves.

Growing up is a process, and we must nurture babies to maturity.

In the same way, when we come to Christ, we’re spiritual babies. The apostle Peter wrote, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2 NKJV). At first, we need spiritual milk. Then we move to baby food, and then we consume food served in bite-sized pieces, which is called a sermon.

But the goal is to learn how to feed ourselves and prepare our own spiritual food, which means that we learn to study the Bible for ourselves.

However, some Christians have never taken the next step. They haven’t grown up spiritually. Although they’ve been Christians for quite some time, they never have really matured.

The writer of Hebrews said, “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (6:1 NKJV).

It’s called growing up spiritually.

Paul wrote that God gave us leaders in the church to help us mature and to equip us for the work of ministry. But he also said, “We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (Ephesians 4:14–15 NKJV).

There is more to living the Christian life than receiving forgiveness for our sins and the assurance of Heaven. Are you growing up spiritually?

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Decisive Moments

But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” 

—Luke 9:62

As we are looking forward in life, it is so important to put our hand to the plow and serve the Lord.

You might say, “I’m going to wait until I get a little bit older before I really start serving Jesus. Maybe when I’m around 95, I’ll really get serious. I want to have a little fun first. I still want to do some things that interest me personally. I believe in Jesus and want to follow Him, but I will get serious later.”

No, you need to do it now.

Jesus said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 NKJV).

To appreciate the point Jesus was making, we have to understand the land in Israel. Putting your hand to the plow meant moving at the decisive moment. It meant moving when it rains.

Between May and October there is hardly any rain in Israel. The ground is dry and hard, and everyone would wait for the first rain. First-century farmers didn’t have the advanced irrigation systems that we have now.

So when the rain came, it was a decisive moment. Whether it was 3:00 PM or 3:00 AM, once it started raining, farmers had to go out with their plows and seed while the ground was still moist. And with their eyes on the furrow, they went forward.

In the same way, we must be aware of the danger and tragedy of the unseized moment. God will bring opportunities into our lives to go out and make a difference, and we have to seize them. If we wait or if we’re not paying attention, we might miss them. And we might become so set in our ways that we’ll have no interest whatsoever in the things of God.

Put your hand to the plow now—and don’t look back.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Necessary Friction

And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 

—Luke 9:61

Scripture: Luke 9:61

Some restaurants present you with a dessert menu, while others tempt you with a dessert tray they bring to your table. On one such occasion I said to the people I was having dinner with, “Let’s get dessert, because I’m going on a diet tomorrow.”

Everyone at the table started laughing at the same time. When I asked why, they told me, “You say that every time you order dessert.” I didn’t realize it, but that was my go-to excuse for getting dessert.

In Luke’s Gospel we read about someone who said to Jesus, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house” (Luke 9:61 NKJV). At first glance, this doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request. After all, what is wrong with saying goodbye to family and friends?

Jesus knew this person’s heart wasn’t right. Being God, He could see into a person. He knew his loyalty was divided. Jesus was saying, “It’s time for you to make a commitment.”

We find the root of the problem in this statement: “Lord, I will follow You, but . . .” This person really didn’t want to follow the Lord.

If Jesus really is the Lord of our lives, then we will follow Him. There is no ifand, or but about it.

What this person was saying is, “I don’t want trouble at home. I don’t want trouble with the family. I need to go and say goodbye for a while. I just don’t want friction.”

Here’s something to consider: you will either have friction in your relationship with God and harmony with people or have harmony with God and friction with people.

If you’re a completely committed follower of Jesus Christ, then you will have friction with some members of your family and certain friends, specifically those who do not want to follow Jesus Christ.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Playing for Time

Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father. 

—Luke 9:59

Scripture:

Luke 9:59 

Listen

If you didn’t understand the culture of the day, it would seem rather heartless of the Lord to say what He said: “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60 NKJV).

Jesus had just called someone to follow Him, but the man replied, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” (verse 59 NKJV). It would seem to us that this man’s father just died, and he was getting ready to bury him.

But that wasn’t the case. This was a Near Eastern figure of speech referring to a son’s responsibility to help his father in the family business until the father died and the inheritance was distributed.

So, when Jesus said, “Follow Me,” it appears the man already was a believer, and this was a call to service. It seems as though the Lord was calling him to a deeper level of commitment.

But this person was making excuses. He was saying, “I have to wait until Dad is gone and the inheritance is divided. I can’t make a commitment like that right now.” He was playing for time, believing that when his father eventually did grow old and die, Jesus would be long gone and he wouldn’t have to worry about it.

Has God called you to serve Him in some capacity? Maybe He has spoken to your heart and said, “I want you to serve Me with the gifts that I have given you.”

But you’re saying, “I would love to, but I am so busy here. I have this business. I have this passion. I’m a little too busy to serve You right now. I have bills to pay, fun to experience, and family to be involved with. I just don’t have time.”

Don’t be like this person and make up excuses. Respond to His call.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Four Important Questions

 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 

—1 Corinthians 10:23

Scripture:

1 Corinthians 10:23 

There’s a common question Christians ask that may indicate a spiritual problem in their lives: “Can you be a Christian and still . . . ?” (Fill in the blank.) In other words, “Can I get away with this and still technically be saved?”

Instead, what we ought to ask is, “Because I am a Christian, how can I best serve the Lord? What can I do to grow spiritually?”

If you’ve ever wondered about what’s okay for a Christian to do, consider these questions.

Does it build me up spiritually? Does this thing that you want to do promote growth in your Christian character? Some things in life can tear you down because they tear you away from the people of God or dull your hunger for the Word of God.

Does it bring me under its power? Some Christians say they have the freedom to do a certain thing because they can handle it. They can control it. But does it bring them under its power? Can they go through a day without it? If not, then it isn’t freedom.

Do I have an uneasy conscience about it? There might be something that you feel uneasy about doing. It just doesn’t feel right. Romans 14:23 says, “For whatever is not from faith is sin” (NKJV). We’re all different. One believer may do a certain thing, but that very thing could harm you spiritually.

Could it cause someone to stumble? You may have the liberty to do something, such as go to this movie or watch that TV show. But if it bothers another believer, be sensitive to that. As Christians, we don’t live unto ourselves. We have an effect on others.

All too often people who are interested in following Jesus don’t want to let go of things that will slow them down. We need to count the cost.

Harvest Ministries; Greg Laurie – Prepared to Pay the Price

 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, ‘Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.’ 

—Luke 9:57

Scripture:

Luke 9:57 

Some people start their new life in Christ with great promise but then suddenly fall away. Others start off with no apparent promise whatsoever, but they seem to gain strength as time goes by.

The Bible tells us, “The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit” (Ecclesiastes 7:8 NKJV).

Nonbelievers can get excited in the emotion of a moment. Maybe they admire a Christian’s commitment, joy, and dedication, so they say, “I like this. I’m going to become a Christian.”

But are they prepared to really be a Christian? Do they understand what it means?

The Bible tells us about a man who approached Jesus and said, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go” (Luke 9:57 NKJV). Matthew’s Gospel tells us that he was a scribe (see 8:19).

That detail may not mean a lot to us today, but it is significant. The scribes were authorities in Jewish law. They were the scholarly class of Jewish society. And typically they were teachers themselves, not followers of other teachers.

So, it was notable for a man of this social position to go to Jesus and say what he said. This is what we might call a celebrity convert. If you looked at Jesus’ ragtag little group at this point, you would have expected Him to say, “Buddy, come on board! I would like you to stand at the front of the line.”

Instead, Jesus said something that almost seemed to repel the man: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58 NKJV). In a sense, Jesus was checking his motives.

We want the glory, but are we prepared to make the sacrifice? Are we ready to take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ? Are we prepared to obey God?