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August 17, 2022 3:00 am
We’re on an inspiring journey through the book of Acts here on A NEW BEGINNING. Pastor Greg Laurie is helping us learn from our spiritual forefathers and see how “The Acts of the Apostles” show us how to live more rewarding lives here and now, 20 centuries later. Today, in a message called A Life Well-Lived, Pastor Greg helps us consider the story of a young man in Acts chapter 7 that set a strong example for other believers to follow. It was an inspiring life, right up to the very end.
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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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You are listening to a new beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by harvest partners, helping people everywhere know guide this at our website and learn more about harvest email@example.com living your life will lose you get older donors them ever since. As we move our lives like a story story is your life. So we see people who work closely with more fire how can we enjoy today on a new beginning. Greg Laurie is the answer.
Certain goals, drawings should be Jesus new beginning. Greg Laurie is open to learn from working the ritual for the helping acts of the apostles shows how to live more rewarding lives here and now, 20 centuries later today. In a message called a life will help us consider the young man in acts chapter 7 is a strong example for other believers to follow was an inspiring life in the Stephen was full of faith in the holy spirit. Yet this great wisdom, and though he was young he was the one. But here's another thing that will come out of this story is Stephen died at a very young age. In fact, he was the first martyr of the early church. The greatest tragedy is not a life that is cut short. If we want to use upper bits. The greatest tragedy is a life that is wasted. Jim Elliott was a martyr along with Nate saints and others who went to take the gospel to a tribe known as the alchemists and they were killed by this tribe and in fact Jim's wife Elizabeth went back and let the very man that killed her husband to Christ. So was a story of redemption. Ultimately, but Jim was a very young man when he got he was only 28 years old man a little journal and in the journal you wrote these words in the film the Slater quote he is no fully give up what he cannot keep to gain that which you cannot lose" so Stephen you look for opportunities and he sees them. So now is brought before the Sanhedrin now is Stephen the play this card try, he could've gone home for dinner, but he got no I want to reach these people with the gospel and I wonder I can guarantee this, of course, but I wonder if even zeroed in on one of those men in the Sanhedrin.
Clearly the leader, a young man named Saul and he thought what if God reads that God what if he became a follower of Jesus.
Can you imagine what the Lord could do through a man like that. We don't know if that was the case, but we know Saul was there. So now Stephen gives this amazing overview of the history of the Jewish people in her so much interesting detail limits and then he brings it to Jesus and reminds them that they would trade Christ. They crucified Christ will this didn't go over real well. We put the story up in acts chapter 7 verse 54 wanted to look at that with me.
The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen's accusation and they shook their fists at human ring you know a message is not going over well. When people do that when they shake their friends since you but Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit gaze steadily and that heaven and saw the glory of God and he saw Jesus standing on the place of honor at God's right hand and he told the look I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the place of honor at God's right again and then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting and they rusted him and drag him out of the city began to stone him and his accusers took up their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul and as they stoned him, Stephen prayed Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. He fell to his knees, shouting Lord, don't charge them with this in with that he fell asleep while what a story God gave Stephen the grace he needed when he needed to say wow if I were in this situation I would never react to this.
Stephen did. I don't know that that's true God will give you what you need when you need it not been for ever after.
Because I can think of people I've seen that are suffering and nothing that I would never be like that might you know I wouldn't have that kind of faith, why do you see that the Bible says he's a very present help in times of trouble, so God will give you what you need when that moment comes, that's exactly what he did for Stephen Hebrews 416 says God will give us grace to help in time of me and so God gave him that grace and what is Stephen C.
Verse 56 I see the heavens open and the Son of Man standing at the place of honor at God's right hand. Isn't that interesting. What keep Stephen going he sees Jesus what will keep you going. You need to see Jesus need to get your eyes off of your circumstances off of your problems and put your eyes on God himself.
Hebrews 12 the author says you cite the way the sin that so easily, but instead to look under Jesus the author and is sure of your faith. That's what will get you through the troubles you might be facing. Even now, but here's what is really unique as Jesus is standing. Have you ever noticed that every other time we read of Jesus in glory. He is sitting at the right hand of God. But here uniquely. He is standing at the right hand of God. Why was Jesus standing under no just contorted sitting no, there's a reason my opinion is he was standing in honor welcoming the first martyr of the early church, as Stephen was standing for Jesus on earth, Jesus was standing for Stephen in heaven because Jesus said if you will confess me before people, I will confess you before the father.
Jesus is saying Stephen I see what's happening here. I love you. You're going to be with me just a moment Stephen saw that and it just changed everything and he fell on his knees, restricting nine say Lord don't charge them with this sin, and he fell asleep. Is that not a perfect reflection of what Jesus did on the cross. When Christ was crucified.
He gave seven statements, each one significant, the order of them is significant statement number one father forgive them for they know not what they do. Stephen says effectively the same thing. Lord don't charge them with this sin and then we read he said, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
This means that he knew he was passing in the glory. And it's a reminder that there is no delay from the time we leave this world and go to the next one when you close your eyes on earth you open them and have when you take your last breath on earth you take your next breath and haven't won a believer dies they go straight to heaven. This is what the Bible teaches second Corinthians 58 cents were fully confident would rather be away from these bodies in them will be at home and with the Lord coming back to the cross. Remember that the that was crucified next to Christ and these is Lord, remember me when you come in your kingdom and Jesus said, truly, truly, I say to you today you will be with me in paradise. John Bunyan, the writer said and I quote, death is but a passage out of a prison into a palace."
When death strikes the Christian they fall in to have God allowed Stephen's life to be taken because he had fulfilled his task. He had fulfilled his calling in his generation. Here's the thing. None of us has a guarantee we will live a long life coming back to Jim Elliott another entry in this journal went as follows, and I quote I seek not a long life, but a full one like you are Jesus" that's what we want we want a full life God determines the length of our life. We don't only think we dare all yours. When I meeting all the proper foods you know and then there's some random dude who lives on hotdogs and makes it past the hundred you spent your life eating tofu and kale, but awful lot a meaningful life.
That's what we want Corrie 10 boom made this statement, quote a life is not measured by its duration, but by its donation will live long lives. I mean look. Stephen didn't have a death wish.
You want to live life. No one loves life more than the Christian because as Paul said to live is Christ to die is gain. We love life. But the Christian does not have to be afraid of death doesn't mean we wanted.
I go to means is we will die. You wake up in the morning with this is my last day on earth and that's your last day on earth to live it well limited right under God and you go straight in the glory of the chances are it's not your last dinners, you probably have many more days on earth but the point is, it's all in God's hands in a broad sense. Life for the Christian never ends at all because Jesus said I am the resurrection on the life he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. So are you living your life well knows you get older you understand that verse that says we live our lives like a story that's been told what story is your life telling let me say a word to you that are young so important to make the right decisions because in a blink of an eye, you will behold like to me, but you're probably look much better than I look.
But it's kind of shocking to think about how quickly life goes by. That's what you want to make the right decisions.
Now lay the foundation because the evening of your life is determined by the morning of your life or the end from the beginning. Stephen get his life right he was young, but he lived it for God's glory. Ecclesiastes 12 one says don't let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your creator honor him in your youth before you grow old and no longer enjoy living so textured goals right and let your passion be for Jesus or Greg Lord will have the second half of his message in just a moment.
We really enjoy hearing with Pastor Greg's teaching and preaching touch lives. Pastor Greg, I'm a junior in high school, was raised in church and saved at a very young age, but when I started high school, I fell away from the Lord one day I heard you on the radio and your message helps me see that I need to get my life right with God, which I did.
Thank you for all you do and allowing God to work through you. It's a blessing to know that listeners young and old are hearing these messages and God is using his word to touch hearts will have Pastor Greg studies impacted your life would you let them know drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org over in the middle.
Pastor Greg series called the upside down life and refocusing on the example of Stephen today from acts chapter 7 the let me close with just a few quick points for taking notes number one for the Christian walking in God's will. Death will come at the appointed time again for the Christian, walking in the will of God. Death will come at the appointed time. Not a minute before or after the Bible says there's a time to be born. There's a time to die so comes under this you are indestructible until God is done with you to just relax, don't panic. It's organic.
That means nothing. I know I said that. But the your okay so don't worry Jesus is who of you by worrying can add one moment to your life. Answer no one so don't worry about it it's all in God's hands number two already made this point but I'll make it again.
The Christian does not have to fear death notice verse 59 says Stephen fell asleep. Actually this was a violent death.
This young man was stone and it says he fell asleep, you know, sleep is only used to describe the death of a Christian in the Bible is never used to describe the death of a non-Christian and I think the reason the word sleep is used is it something well it doesn't have to be fear right you know when you get older sleeping kind of taken when you're older happy hour is in that right you have to be afraid. Oh, don't fall asleep all know it's okay to fall asleep is your wake up and he woke up in the presence of God number three in heaven. All of our questions will be answered while we have so many questions now so many things we don't understand.
Why did God let this happen.
I just was with a couple in our church to lost a member of their family. A young man unexpectedly and you of the questions I know these questions I asked the same question when our son went to be with the Lord. 13 years ago. Why did this happen why him.
He was so young get his whole life ahead of him. Why why why why why it's okay to ask why questions. Even Jesus hanging on the cross that my God, my God, why have you forsaken me.
So ask away doesn't mean you'll get an answer, but you can ask but one day you will get an answer. And until that day. We live on promises, not explanation. So don't spend too much time wondering why instead go back to who and what Google is and who shall I turn to you need to turn to God what is in what should I do now. You should seek to glorify God. One day your questions will be answered. One day your tears will be dried one day all of these things will be resolved, but until the day we must trust God never trade what we do know for what we don't know there's a lot of things I don't know she should've met me when I was 21 I was a young pastor and I knew everything.
I had a first for everything you need to do this you need to do that now that I'm 51. That's even funny about that sat older you know my grandkids old Poppa might birthdays coming man went to my bird. This team is that all know another birthdays got.
I don't look for to birthdays is not only through me when you're older. They all now all those candles and so much work to blow Mel too many candles there too expensive to have that many to but all these things are going to be resolved. One day in all these questions are going to be answered but until the day we want to live for God. There's one other thing I want close with God can bring good out of the worst kind.
God can bring good out of the worst kind that no Romans 828 is a verse that is so beautiful and powerful, but it's often misunderstood. We all know it right you want to get stabbed just saying it together without it on the screen for we know that all things work together to those who love God. Another called pretty good.
Like 12 of you that's reverse we quoted. Now here's where we misunderstand it we think maybe it means that no matter what bad thing happen semi-gobble turn it into something good right that's not an exit with diverse sets. It says we know that all things work together for good to those that love God, you see, there are things that happen in life that are bad things there tragic things in the always be a bad and tragic thing. But despite that tragic thing God can still do something good so doesn't mean I need to say this, nothing happened. So this good thing will happen know.
Maybe it's like this dispensing happened. I don't know why this bad thing happen.
I wish it did not happen one day.
Maybe God will explain it to me.
But despite that, I pray that God will bring. Go to my life as I come through this tragedy with itself to present different everything that is never tidy little bow on it, but with Jesus, he will show me his purposes.
Ultimately, now part of this worked out in the church instead of stopping the church.
The church exploded in a good way. You see, up to this point the church is going to hanging out in Jerusalem. Jesus said you shall receive power of the Holy Spirit is come upon you to be witnesses for me Jerusalem Judeo Marriott was parts of the earth like that's cool but you hang on Jerusalem. They're having a little holy huddle, but after they saw the courage of Stephen after they saw him lay his life down as he did. They went everywhere with the gospel and there was one man that was reached a state and his name was Saul of Tarsus and later on we can look at his amazing conversion story so incredible. I love the story, and I think that God used Stephen in a significant way to get through to Saul, he planted the seed so you could say Stephen didn't reach a lot of people but the one he reads man that was one whopper of a conference Saul of Tarsus, later to become the great apostle Paul. So Stephen's life is short, but it was full and he was faithful to death and God came to him a crown of life. And that's what he promises to all of us as we serve him. So let me close with the spot there were going to pray if you died today would you go to have is a willing, I hope so. Look I want more than hope, I want to know.
I know I will go to heaven when I die. Why because I'm a preacher, no because I put my faith in Christ and these forgiven me of my sin same way you're going to get into.
As I've said so many times seven is not for good people.
It's for forgiven people.
You need to be forgiven. So if you're not sure if you're forgiven of your sin.
If you're not certain that you go to heaven when you die, I would like to have a prayer and I would like to lead you in a prayer when you would ask Christ to come into your life if you need Jesus in your life. Pray this after me right now. Pray these words Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead eyed Schoen from my sin. Now they choose to follow you from this moment forward as my Savior and Lord, thank you for hearing this prayer answering Jesus thing today on a new beginning pastor Greg Laurie, leaving listeners an important prayer or prayer to receive Christ and have their sins forgiven if you prayed that prayer we want to be the first to welcome you into the family of God and we want to make sure you can get started off right in your new relationship with the Lord so would like to send you what we call our new believers growth packet is free of charge and little help lay a foundation for your walk of faith.
Just ask for it when you call 1-800-821-3300.
That's a 24 seven phone number again 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning. Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514 or go online to harvest.org and click the words know God. Yesterday we have some time for your additional comments you know so many of us subscribe to different streaming services like Apple or Amazon prime or Netflix and these things you know offer some value, but what about subscribing, if you will, to something that literally changes lives what I'm talking about is becoming a harvest partner and we have a interactive relationship with you because when you see him in the support harvest every month you enable us to reach new people know I'll give you the same content for free. I'll be upfront about that but at the same time someone has to help us get this content out because there are expenses involved but for our harvest partners. We have special communication. We offer you special gifts and resources that are unique to those that feel that what we are doing matters.
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We can take your call anytime. That's 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org/partner will next time pastor Greg highlights the lives of two men in Scripture to prove the point that no one is beyond the reach of God join us here on a new beginning.
Pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie new beginning as a podcast, made possible by harvest partners, helping people everywhere know God if this show has impacted your life. Share your story leverage you on your favorite podcast and help others find help