Harvest Christian Fellowship Channel – Riverside, California | Pastor Greg Laurie
Elevate Christian Network :: Ministry Outreach TV
- In this message, Pastor Greg Laurie encourages believers how to successfully face overwhelming obstacles and to remember that God’s way is best and it’s always good.
– Father, today we come to worship and honor you, thankful that we live in a country where we’re free to sing your praises openly, free to proclaim the Gospel, free to teach the Word and now Lord we come to hear from you because there’s someone here that is facing what seems like an insurmountable obstacle. A problem that looms so large they don’t know how they could possibly overcome it or get around it or get through it and so Lord I’m praying you’ll speak to that person, but speak to all of us because in life we do face great challenges, severe trials, as well as wonderful opportunities, so, Lord, help us to get clarity in what we should do and how we should think as we look at your Word together. We ask this now in Jesus’ name, amen. You can all be seated. All right, well, why don’t you grab your Bibles? We’re gonna turn to two passages today. A familiar one to start with, Hebrews 11. That’s our base text for this series that we’re calling World Changers, as we look at the great heroes of the faith from what is sometimes called the Hall of Faith. Hebrews 11, and also turn to Exodus chapter 13. The title of my message is How To Face Overwhelming Obstacles. Let me start with a question, how many of you have ever been in a situation where the only way out was God? Raise your hand up. Yeah, you been in one of those situations? Maybe it was a report from a doctor that gave no real hope. Maybe it was a financial catastrophe where you were on brink of collapse. Maybe a marriage was completely unraveling or a loved one died and you did not think you possibly could survive such a thing or you’ve had a huge family conflict that seemed unresolvable. Well, I bring this up because that’s the very scenario before us here in our story from world changers, as we see the Israelites standing between, well, in a way, the devil and the deep blue sea. They were backed up against the wall and they were caught between an unconquerable army and an impossible, excuse me, impassable sea. They were between the impossible and the more impossible, but what they were about to discover was with God all things are possible. Have you ever looked up the phrase but God in scripture? Fascinating study. But God, two words. Let me illustrate, remember God brought judgment upon the earth in the days of Noah. The flood came in. Noah and his family got into the ark with the animals and things were looking pretty bleak. Well, we read in Genesis but God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark and he sent a wind over the earth and the waters receded. You see, God had made a promise to Noah that they would find land again and start over again and God always keeps his promises. But God. Then there was the story of Joseph, who was betrayed by his own brothers and they thought he was dead, but God spared his life and Joseph said to them, “You meant this for evil, “but God intended it for good.” Hey, even death does not have the final word. Death can seem so permanent, so hopeless, but Psalm 49:6 says, but God will redeem my life from the grave. He will take me to himself. So my question for you today is how big is your but? (congregation laughs) Hey, where are your heads at? Wow. (congregation laughs) I spell that with one T, not two. Well, I don’t know how big your butt is, but I know that your God is bigger than any problem you’re facing right now. (congregation applauds) Yes, I meant to say that, I’m just having fun. That’s all you’re gonna remember from the message. By the way, I thought of calling this message how big is your but, but I thought (congregation laughs) it’s not gonna be good. So we’re looking at a world changer. His name was Moses. What an amazing story because here’s a boy who, well, was supposed to die because the Pharaoh, wicked man that he was, gave a decree that all the Jewish baby boys should be drowned in the Nile River. Why? Because they were Jewish and probably the first act of anti-Semitism in the Bible. The Pharaoh tries to eradicate the race of the Hebrews. What a heartless and wicked thing to do, but God had a different plan for the beautiful Jewish baby Moses and know this. God always will have the last word. So Moses’ parents put him in a little basket and they covered it in pitch so it was water proof and they sent him cruising down the Nile River and almost on cue, really on cue, the beautiful baby Moses begins to cry. The daughter of the Pharaoh, the princess of Egypt sees this gorgeous little baby boy and her maternal instincts kick in and she decides I wanna raise that boy as my own son and she’s looking for a mother to nurse him and of course Moses, Joseph, I’m getting the wrong characters in the story, Moses’ mother is nearby and she volunteers for the job and so here’s Moses now being raised in the palace of the Pharaoh. The world was his oyster. He could’ve had anything he wanted and the Jewish historian Josephus said, “Moses was actually on track to potentially become “the next Pharaoh of Egypt,” but that brings us to our first passage. Hebrews 11, he chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ, greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked to his reward. Man, Moses said no to all that sin. Mo said no and it was awesome. He could’ve been compromised. He could’ve done the wrong thing. No, I don’t want your passing pleasures. He was on a roll until he took matters into his own hands because one day he saw an Egyptian mistreating a Jew and he just lost it and he killed the guy and the Pharaoh pretty much said, “Moses is a dead man.” So he ran away and he was exiled for 40 years, probably thinking that was the end, but God still had a plan for Moses. So he had to retrofit him for the task at hand and with great courage, accompanied by Aaron, he went into the court of the most powerful man on the face of the earth, the Pharaoh of Egypt and said, “Let my people go “that they may have a feast to me in the wilderness.” And the Pharaoh said, “There’s no way. “I don’t know the Lord and I’m not gonna let them go.” So on that went and finally the Pharaoh acquiesced. Finally the Pharaoh gave in and now they’re on their way. They’re out, they’re free. In fact, they have their first Passover meal together, but this is interesting, how the Lord led them, because the Lord did not lead them on the direct route. He led them on a much harder, longer route and in some ways made no sense. I mean, think about this. It took them 40 years to reach the promised land. Why is that? Is that because men were in charge and no one would stop and ask for directions? (congregation laughs) Could be. Well, the reason was is because they were wandering in the wilderness going around in circles because they were disobeying the Lord, but the route from Egypt to the Red Sea was an unusual route God took them. He’s taking them in a way where they’re gonna be put in what appears to be an impossible situation. That brings me to point number one. Before you can be a world changer, God needs to change you. Before you can be a world changer, God needs to change you. Let me put it another way. Before you can change the world, your world needs to be changed. Now look what happens here. Look at Exodus 13 verse 17 when Pharaoh let the people go. God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the promised land. God said, “If my people are faced with a battle, “they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. That’s interesting. God did not lead them on the shortest route or the easiest route, but he did lead them on the best route, which brings me to point number two. God’s way is the right way. God’s way is the right way. Now the Lord gave them a really amazing GPS system. A fire by night, a cloud by day, very simple (chuckles). When the cloud moved, you move. When the cloud stopped, you stop. At nighttime when the fire moved, you move. When it stopped, you stop. I don’t know about you, but I use GPS every now and then and occasionally my GPS, it almost seems like it has a mind of its own. I’m thinking did some geek program this, but then he had too many chips or something? (grumbles) I don’t know, but I’ll be driving along the freeway. I’m going to a destination I’ve never been to. I put it in GPS and all of a sudden it will say turn right at the next off-ramp. Okay, doesn’t make sense. I thought you wouldn’t turn, I turn right. Turn left here, turn right here, turn right here, turn left here. Now get back on the freeway and I get back on. What was that all about? (congregation laughs) There was nothing happening to cause that. It makes no sense at all and sometimes I’ll have my GPS on for the beginning of a trip and suddenly I’ll recognize where I am so I don’t need to listen anymore and the GPS will tell me to go a way that I know is the wrong way. Go this way, no, no, I’m gonna go my way. Then that frustrates GPS. Recalculating, recalculating, recalculating. (congregation laughs) Then GPS will say, “Do a U-turn at the next light.” And I don’t do a U-turn. Then it says, “Do a U-turn at the next light.” Then it says to me, “Why didn’t you do a U-turn (congregation laughs) “at the last light?” I have a nag feature I have to disable in settings. No, I made that up. But I mean, you know, GPS isn’t always right, but God’s GPS is always right. Cloud by day, a fire by night. You say, “Man, I wish I could have that,” ’cause a lot of times I wanna know what I should do, where I should go. It’d be so easy, oh, the cloud’s moving. This is the way, let’s go everybody. You have something better than a cloud and a fire. You have Christ himself living in your heart. They didn’t have that in the Old Testament. Even Moses, great man of God that he was or Abraham or Isaac or Jacob, fill in blank here, any of the great Old Testament characters, they didn’t have Christ in them. This is only for the believer in the new covenant who has believed in Jesus Christ. God takes residence in our heart and I don’t need a fire in the sky. I have the fire of the Holy Spirit in my life, giving me the power to do what God has called me to do (congregation applauds) and the Lord will lead you in the way that he wants you to go. Now listen to this. Sometimes God’s will doesn’t make sense and I think this is true when you’re younger, as you learn these truths for the first time. You know, you’ll learn what God wants you to do, what God doesn’t want you to do and maybe if you’re young or you’re new, you’re not supposed to have sex before marriage and after you’re married you’re supposed to be faithful to your spouse. You’re saying, “That is, like, the lamest rule ever. “Why would God say that? “He’s trying to ruin all my fun. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Actually, God knows exactly what he’s talking about. He put that law in place to protect you because as you get older and you see all of the havoc that comes from people who live immoral lifestyles, you start to see the logic of this law. You could take so many of our social ills today. Marriages falling apart. Children conceived out of wedlock, raised in fatherless homes. Often ending up in drugs. Often ending up in prison or in jail. Often ending up having their own children out of wedlock. Repeated patterns of sin going on and on all because we can’t keep the simple commandment of obeying God. He’s put it there for your own good. Or you’ll read the Bible, it says you shall not lie. Oh, why should I not lie? Man, you’ll really benefit if you lie. If I lie on the test or cheat on the test, I’ll pass. If I lie on the resume, I’ll get the job. If I lie here, if I lie there, it’ll be better for me, but then you start facing the repercussions for your deceptions and for your lies and you realize oh wow, God knew what he was talking about all along. That’s because God’s way is the right way. King Solomon was a powerful man, a wealthy man, and actually, the wisest man on the face of the earth, but he became one of the greatest fools that ever lived because Solomon decided one day, you know what? I’m gonna go out there and experience everything this world has to offer. I’m gonna do every wrong thing the Bible tells me not to do to see if God’s word is true and to see what all that stuff is like and Solomon writes about it in the book of Ecclesiastics and he says, “Everything I wanted I took. “I never said no to myself. “I gave into every impulse. “I held back nothing “and then I took a good look at everything I’d done. “I looked at all the sweat and the hard work “and it was nothing but smoke. “There was nothing to any of it.” So then at the end of the book of Ecclesiastics, here’s the conclusion of Solomon. He says, “The last and final word is this. “Fear God and do what he tells you to do.” That’s it, I love that. Oh by the way, here’s what I figured out. Just honor God, fear him, reverence him, and do what he tells you to do. The end, goodbye. Why can’t we learn that? Oh no, God doesn’t know what he’s saying. I’m different, no, you’re not different. We’re all the same and God tries to protect us and keep us from those things because God’s way is the right way and the fact is the Lord was gonna lead them in a way where he was gonna get the glory. He told the Israelites to go specifically to a place called Migdal by the sea and we read about it here in Exodus 14 verse three. “And the Pharaoh will think,” the Lord says, “the Israelites are confused “and they’re trapped in the wilderness “and once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart. “He will chase after you. “I’ve planned this in order to display my glory “through Pharaoh and the whole army. “After this the Egyptians will know I am the Lord.” So the Israelites camped there as they were told. From a standpoint of military strategy, this was crazy. They were completely vulnerable. They were surrounded by desert with their backs against the ocean. There was literally no way out, but the fact is God was tricking the Egyptians into thinking the Israelis or Israelites had no idea what they were doing, but God was allowing this he could he show his power. Meanwhile, back at the palace one of the Pharaoh’s subjects comes and says, “Those crazy Hebrews, guess what they’ve done? “They don’t know what they’re doing. “They don’t know where they’re going. “They’re backed up against the Red Sea with no way out. “What should we do?” “What should we do? “Let’s kill them all right now,” says the Pharaoh. He’s so angry, so he gets an army ready and they begin to charge against the Israelites. He’s thinking I’m gonna get them. They’re so foolish. They’ve made this horrible mistake and here are the Israelites standing backed up against the Red Sea and they see this approaching army, so what do they do? Do they pray? Do they rejoice that God’s in control? No, they do what you would do. They completely freak out. Look at Exodus 14:10. As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them and said to Moses, “Weren’t there enough “graves for us in Egypt?” It’s kinda funny really. Oh, we had to come and die all the way out here. We could’ve just died in Egypt just as easily. You know, it’s a funny thing. They kept wanting to go back to Egypt. That was always their point of Egypt. Going back to Egypt, their point of reference rather. Going back to Egypt. It took God one night to get Israel out of Egypt and it took 40 years to take Egypt out of Israel. They were always looking back and some Christians are that way. They’re always looking back. Oh, remember the good old days before I was a Christian? Man, we would party. Had so much fun, did this, did that. Really, were they good old days? Were they as good as you think they were? Or is your memory a little distorted? Have you forgotten the emptiness? Have you forgotten the despondency? Have you forgotten the repercussions of the things that you did? Have you forgotten that dull ache deep inside of you? Have you forgotten the fact that you contemplated suicide? Have you forgotten the havoc it brought upon your family? Yeah, you’ve forgotten about that conveniently and you remember a few good times that you had and that’s what they would do. They were always looking back, so before we judge them, let’s just realize we’ve done the same thing. This is why Jesus said, “No man, “having put his hand on the plow and looking back “is fit for the kingdom of God.” Have you ever been driving along and had a CHP pull up behind you? Makes you nervous, doesn’t it? What’s the first thing you do when you see a cop? Slow down. Even if you’re going under the speed limit, you slow down. Slow down, slow down. And if the cop slows down, you slow down even more. (congregation laughs) And maybe the speed limit’s 55 and he’s going 40. Now you’re going 30. (congregation laughs) He goes 30, you’re going 20. He goes 10, you just stop. (congregation laughs) I ain’t passing that cop. He’s gonna light me up, no way. We’re very aware. So you’re driving, if they’re behind you, you’re just kinda always looking in your rear view. Who’s that? Oh, he’s still there? Don’t turn those lights on, do not. Those lights go on, my rates go up. Do not turn those lights on. They’re probably just out there messing with us anyway. (congregation laughs) But you can’t drive forward when you’re looking back. You’re gonna get yourself in trouble and you can’t walk forward spiritually if you’re always looking over your shoulder and the Bible, by the way, tells us in First Corinthians 10, speaking of the Israelites and their wilderness wanderings, these things happened to them as a warning to us, those of us who are living in the last days. So don’t dismiss this story and say, “It’s just some Bible story. “It has no relevance to me.” It has a lot of relevance to you. These things are examples or warnings, so that brings us to point number three. When things are scary, pray. When things are scary, pray. Yeah, the people freaked out, but they also prayed. Verse 11, they cried out to the Lord and said to Moses, “Why did you bring us here to die in the wilderness?” They cried out to God. It reminds us of the disciples on the storm-tossed sea of Galilee and Jesus was asleep. How do you sleep through stuff like that? Some people can sleep through anything. My wife can sleep through anything. A bird chirps, I’m awake. I’m a light sleeper and I hear one little noise. It’s like I have super sonic hearing or something. I hear one little noise and sometimes I’ll jump out of my bed, like land on my feet, put on my Hello Kitty slippers, (congregation laughs) and investigate. Make sure everything’s okay, but I sleep light. Some people just sleep through all kinds of crazy stuff. So here’s a storm, the boat’s pitching back and forth. Water’s coming into the boat. Jesus is asleep. They wake him up and say, “Master, “don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” But the point is they called out to Jesus and that’s what you ought to do. That’s what we need to do when we’re in trouble. If your knees start shaking, kneel on them and know this. Faith and worry cannot coexist. One chases out the other. You know people that don’t get along? Maybe you’ve inviting someone over to your house. Let’s invite so and so. Oh, let’s invite them. Oh, don’t bring them if that person’s here. They don’t get along. There’s always a conflict, so if we have this person, we can’t have that person, right? You know people like that? Are you one of those people? Just stop. Anyway, so faith and worry are that way. If there’s worry, there’s no place for faith. Faith is driven out by worry, but worry is driven out by faith and we’re told over in Philippians four, don’t worry about anything. Pray about everything and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus or as the J.B. Phillips translation puts it, don’t worry over anything whatever. Tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer and the peace of God which transcends human understanding will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus. I love that translation. But they saw the army. I mean, imagine, look at verse 10. They saw the Egyptian army in pursuit. I mean, if this were happening today, it would’ve been tanks and hummers and helicopters and jets all coming at them at the same time. Chariots and horses and shields and swords and spears. They’re thinking we are so dead. There was no mightier army on the face of the earth at this time, but what does God tell them to do? Moses reassures them and says in Exodus 14:13, “Don’t be afraid, just stand still “and watch the Lord rescue you today. “The Egyptians, while you see today, “will never be seen again. “The Lord himself will fight for you. “Just stay calm.” (laughs) Wow, that’s kinda hard to do, isn’t it? Sometimes the devil comes at us with everything he’s got. All his temptations, all his deceptions, all of his demons coming at us. We’re thinking, oh man, I’m gonna die. No, you aren’t and I’ll tell you why you aren’t. Because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world, that’s why. (congregation applauds) Christ is in you. You belong to the Lord. Oh, the devil can tempt you. The devil can hassle you, but he cannot overcome you because you’re under God’s protection. That is why in Ephesians six as we’re told about the spiritual armor, we are to wear the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness and so forth, before all of that, it says stand in the Lord and in the power of his might. “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord,” says Moses. Believe it or not, that’s a good place to be. Warren Wiersbe wrote and I quote, “When human resources are gone, “then divine resources can go to work “on behalf of those that trust God.” End quote. Now that brings me to point number four. When led by the Lord, make your move. When led by the Lord, make your move. There’s a time to wait and there’s a time to move. Verse 15, the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying to me? “Tell the people to get moving. “Pick up your staff. “Raise your hand over the sea. “Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through, “through the middle of the sea on dry ground.” Listen to this. This may seem odd, but this is true. There can come a point in your life where you don’t need to pray about something anymore. Well, Greg, you should always pray. Now hold on, understand what I’m saying. There’s a time to pray and there’s a time to move. See, God was saying, “Stop crying to me. “Stop praying about it. “Get moving. “The miracles’s coming.” Moses, hold up your hand, hold up that staff and the waters parted. Let me illustrate. Let’s say you’re having troubles in your marriage. Maybe you’re praying for your husband. Oh Lord, help my husband to change. He’s such a jerk, change him Lord. (congregation laughs) Help him see how wonderful I am. (congregation laughs) Maybe you should change your prayer. (congregation laughs) Maybe you should say, “Lord, you know my husband is a jerk, “but help me to be the godly woman you want me to be. “Help me to do my part.” And the husband of course needs to pray the same thing. See, a lot of times, we’re saying, “Lord, save my marriage, “but we’re not doing anything to keep our marriage strong.” You know, the Bible says husbands, love your wife as Christ loves the church. Wives, respect your husband. You know, but we don’t do that. We just go, oh, Lord, save my marriage. Okay, good, keep praying, but do your part. Or maybe there’s someone who’s wronged you. They’ve offended you. They’ve insulted you, they’ve wounded you and you wanna forgive them. You say, “Lord, give me the strength “to forgive this person.” Good, you prayed about it, now go do it. Well, I’m not feeling it, man. Doesn’t matter if you’re feeling it. Just go do it. The Bible says forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you. It doesn’t say anything about when you feel it. Just go do it and I would even say that the emotions will most likely follow when you take the step of obedience. Or maybe you’re praying, Lord, save so and so. You’ve prayed for them for years and years. Lord, save them. Lord, save them. Good, keep praying, but wait. Have you preached the Gospel to them? Well, I can’t do that. Go preach the Gospel to them ’cause maybe it’s their moment to come to Christ. See, there’s a time to pray and there’s a time to move. How were they able to do this? How were they able to walk through the Red Sea? I mean, just imagine this. It’s like God’s saying to you, “Go down to the Pacific Ocean and keep walking.” Uh, what? Yeah, just walk. So you get in. You know, you’re up to your ankles. Now you’re up to your knees. Now you’re up to your waist and the waves are crashing on top of your head and you really can’t walk at all. You’re thinking this isn’t working out. That’s what God said to do. You just go and start walking. How are they able to do it? They did it by faith. Hebrews 11:29 says it was by faith the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground, but when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned. You see, world changers are willing to take bold steps of faith. Faith is obeying God in spite of circumstances or even consequences and the more you use your faith, the stronger it gets. The less you lose your faith, the more it weakens. World changers see opportunities. Those who are changed by this world see obstacles. World changers see bridges. Those who are changed by the world just see walls. It’s all how you look at things and are you willing to do what God tells you to do? Bringing me to point number five. Our life as a Christian is a walk of faith. Look at verse 21. Moses raised his hand over the sea. The Lord opened up a path through the water and with a strong east wind, the wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land so the people walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground with walls of water on each side. They had to walk right through. By the way, it took all night. Sure, it was very exciting when they started. Woah. Fish probably flopping around on the ground. Sushi. (congregation laughs) Who’s got the wasabi and soy sauce? They probably saw fish cruising by on the walls. Woah, look at that, look at right there, you know? It’s like the best aquarium ever. It was very exciting at first and very exciting at the end when the walls of water collapsed on the Egyptian army, but they had to walk and walk and it’s hours and hours and that’s a Christian life. It’s just a walk with the Lord. You know, sometimes there’s a lot of excitement in the beginning of the Christian life when you realize what God has done for you, but as time passes, you might start taking things for granted and you might start finding yourself becoming a bit apathetic. You need to just keep walking this walk. One definition of being a Christian is long obedience in the same direction. I like that, long obedience in the same direction, but if you find yourself getting apathetic, you need to pull out your RPGS. My rocket-propelled grenade launcher? No, your RPGS. R stands for read. Every day read the Bible. You never outgrow it. You never get beyond it. It never becomes irrelevant. Every day you read. P stands for prayer. You need to have a prayer life. Pray about things, bring things before the Lord. G of RPGS stands for go to church. You never outgrow that. You need to be a regular part of the church and S in RPGS stands for share. Share your faith with others. This is something we stop doing. We stop reading our Bibles. We stop being regular in church attendance. We stop praying, we stop sharing our faith and we wonder why apathy is seeping into our life. ‘Cause you’re not doing the basics. Let’s just say you decided, ah, I’m just not gonna eat anymore. So over the eating thing. Here’s what’s gonna happen. You’re gonna get light-headed. You’re gonna get dizzy. You’re gonna feel almost sick and if it goes on for a while, you’re gonna basically start to die and you can’t live that way. You must eat to survive and in the same way we’ll neglect these disciplines and we’ll find ourself withering. Or let’s say you never exercise. In fact, the problem is all you do is eat. You eat and eat and eat and eat. You live at Krispy Kreme. You live there, like have a bed there. You just eat donuts. You eat them before they’re even made. (congregation laughs) Okay, now you have another problem. You need exercise. Well, first of all, stop being a glutton, okay? But number two, you need exercise. You need activity and so it’s not enough to just come to church and listen and hear and be blessed. Yes, we’re thankful you’re here and we’re here to help you, but now we take it out. The holiest moment of our church service is when God’s people walk out the doors and go into all the world and preach the Gospel. That’s the sharing part, so use your RPGS and so here they are walking through this Red Sea. Now in an earlier message in the World Changer series, I talked about facing your giants. It was based on David and Goliath, remember? And I pointed out that if you wanna overcome a giant, you have to attack it and kill it ’cause that’s what David did with Goliath and my point was we all have giants in our life. I’m using it as a metaphor for sin or an addiction or some problem. Identify it, attack it, cut its head off. That’s a giant, the Red Sea’s different. You don’t kill the Red Sea. You get through the Red Sea, it’s a different picture and there are situations in life that you can’t attack. You have to get through them. Maybe it’s something you weren’t expecting. Maybe it’s a troubled marriage. You need to hang in there and not give up. Maybe it’s a physical problem. You know, maybe you have a disability you were born with. Maybe you’ve had an accident. Now there’s an issue in your life that you’ve never had before. Maybe it’s just the effects of getting older and you deal with a lot of new aches and pains, you know? You hear snap, crackle, and pop in the morning and the problem is you’re not eating Rice Krispies. (congregation laughs) It’s you. Or maybe it’s some affliction of some kind. You know the Apostle Paul had this problem and here’s a guy who prayed for people to be healed. He prayed and people were raised from the dead, but he had this thorn in the flesh as he called it. Now don’t forget Paul was beaten. He was shipwrecked. He went through all kinds of hardships. Some scholars think it might have been his eyesight. We don’t know, but whatever it was, it bugged him. It bothered him, it troubled him. He called it a thorn in the flesh and three times he asked the Lord to take it away and the Lord said, “Paul, my grace is sufficient for you. “My power is made perfect in weakness.” Or as another translation puts it, God speaking, said to Paul, “My grace is enough. “It’s all you need. “My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” Paul says, “Once I heard that, “I was glad to let that happen. “I quit focusing on the handicap “and began appreciating the gift. “It was a case of Christ’s strength “moving in on my weakness. “Now I take lamentations in stride and with good cheer. “These things cut me down to size, “accidents, opposition, bad breaks. “I just let Christ take over “and the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” I love that translation. That’s very well said and that’s it. Lord, I don’t understand it, but help me get through this Red Sea. Help me get through this issue because one day you will get through it in one way, shape, or form. What about the death of a loved one? I just talked to a couple that lost their only son. Age 33. His name was Christopher, the name of our son who also died at 33, but he was their only son and your heart just goes out because what can you say? It’s so tragic, it’s so sad, but I saw how they were trusting in the Lord and I saw how now they’re doing things for God’s glory. They’re thinking of ways to invest their money for the Gospel and they’re wanting to reach out and do things and their hearts have been touched, you know? And they’re processing this great pain and they’re in the beginning of it. It just happened to them recently and I know that feeling well ’cause I’ve been there, but I’m not at the place I was eight years ago, but it’s still very hard and it’s something you get through day by day. It’s not a year by year thing. It’s not a month by month thing. Sometimes it’s an hour by hour thing. Please, friends, be patient with those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Don’t rush it. Don’t come in with all your clever Christian answers ’cause half the time you don’t know what you’re talking about. One of the best things you can do for a person who’s suffering is just be there and love them because in many ways, there aren’t a lot of answers that will really bring comfort and sometimes the answers we bring to comfort actually cause more pain. I know this from experience because of things people have said to me. Be patient and never ask a person who has lost a loved one, especially recently, never ask this. Are you over it yet? Go slug yourself in the face if you say anything. (congregation laughs) How dare you. Don’t ask them that. You know, they’re not gonna get over it maybe ever, but they’re gonna get through it by God’s help and your prayers. I’m not over it. I’ll never be over it, but I’m getting through it. I’m getting through my Red Sea and I just walk through it trusting the Lord, knowing that when I get to the end of that Red Sea, I’m gonna see my son again in heaven. That’s my hope. (congregation laughs) What’s yours? ‘Cause one day we’re all gonna come to the end of our life, if we wanna accept it or not. You’ll end up on a hospital bed. You’ll end up in hospice. You may not even have that luxury, so called. Death may come suddenly, but you’ll probably know this is it. This is the end, okay. You’re gonna pass over. All of us are gonna pass over to the other side. The Israelites went from one place to another. They went from the shore of Egypt to the shore of the brink of the promised land and one day we’ll pass over as Christians to heaven or we’ll pass over to the other side to a place called hell. By the way, God doesn’t want anyone to go there. Oh, to finish this story, the Israelites, they got finally through the Red Sea and they’re probably waiting for stragglers. There’s always stragglers, right? Come on, Uncle Harry, let’s go, let’s go. Couple of little kids, come on, come on. We’re not leaving till we’re all here. You know, couple stray animals, get them over and here comes the Pharaoh. Oh, this is gonna be good and he’s charging. He’s got his chariots. They’re coming through and then the sea collapses on them and they’re all drowned and destroyed. You look at that and say, “That’s so mean.” Is it? This is the Pharaoh that was drowning Jewish baby boys in the Nile River. This is the Pharaoh that was bent on their destruction facing the consequences of his sin. You see, you reject God, you break God’s rules, you say no to Jesus, one day you’re gonna reap what you sow and I want you to know something. When that day comes, God will take no pleasure in it. God doesn’t wanna judge anyone. That’s why he warned Pharaoh over and over and over and over and over and over again and we just read Pharaoh hardened his heart. Pharaoh hardened his heart. Pharaoh hardened his heart. Pharaoh hardened his heart and all of a sudden we read God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. What happened, I already told you. God gave Pharaoh the ability to choose. Pharaoh said, “No, no, no, no. “I don’t want it. “I don’t want God.” Finally, the Lord said, “Okay, is that your final decision? “I’ll strengthen you in the decision you’ve already made.” Right now, God’s speaking to someone’s heart. Deep down inside, you’re saying, “Man, I need to get right with God. “I need Jesus.” ‘Cause you’re not sure right now as you’re listening to this message if you were to die today, if you would go to heaven or not. You don’t have that assurance, but Jesus who died at the cross and rose again from the dead three days later can come into your life and forgive you. See, Pharaoh thought the Israelites made a huge mistake and he pounced on them, taking advantage, not realizing it was a trap set by God himself to show his glory. Fast forward many years. Satan has infiltrated the disciples and has gotten one of Jesus’ own handpicked friends to betray him, Judas Iscariot. Satan’s got the religious leaders onboard and the Romans as well and he orchestrates the death of Jesus, not realizing it was all part of God’s plan ’cause it was always God’s plan for Jesus to die on the cross for our sin and then to rise again from the dead and he can forgive you of all of your sin right now if you’ll ask him to. There might be some of you listening here and watching that you’re living this compromised life. You’re trying to live in two worlds. You’re doing things you know you should not be doing. I talked about getting the Israelites out of Egypt, but not getting Egypt out of the Israelites. That too, you’re sitting here in church going, yeah, I’m in church, but you have other plans for this day and they’re not good and you did something last night you’re pretty embarrassed about and you’re thinking about doing something else tonight or tomorrow that are things that you know are wrong before God and here’s my concern. You live this way coming to church, putting on a little show and then going out and doing this stuff, you’re gonna get a hardened heart and one day your heart may get so hard, you won’t even be able to hear God anymore. That is why the Bible says harden not your heart if you can hear his voice. The Lord is saying, “Turn from that sin “because my way is the right way. “Trust me on this.” He can forgive you of all of your sin if you’ve never believed in Jesus and he can forgive you of your sin if you’ve believed in him, but you’ve been disobeying him, so we’re gonna close now in prayer and I’m gonna extend an invitation for you to get right with God. Let’s all pray, Father, thank you for your word to us today. Now I pray for any here, any that are listening or watching that don’t know you yet. They don’t have the hope of heaven. They’re still living under the guilt of their sin. Help them to come to you and believe and be forgiven. While our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed and we’re praying, how many of you would say today, Greg, pray for me? I want my sin forgiven. I wanna go to heaven when I die. I wanna find the meaning and purpose in life that Christ promises. I’m ready to say yes to Jesus Christ. Pray for me right now. If that’s your desire, if you want Jesus to come into your life, if you want him to forgive you of your sin, if you wanna go to heaven when you die, will you raise your hand up right now wherever you are? And I’ll pray for you. Just raise your hand if you want Christ to come into your life. You want him to forgive you. Raise your hand up, I’ll pray for you. Raise it up high where I can see it please. God bless you. God bless you, raise your hand up. Say, “Yes, I want Jesus, pray for me.” God bless each one of you raising your hand. Now some of you are watching this screen. I can’t see you of course, but the Lord sees you. Would you take this little step of faith and raise your hand as well, saying, “Yes, I need Christ in my life, pray for me.” Wherever you are, raise your hand up, I’ll pray for you. God bless all of you raising your hand. While our heads are still bowed, some of you would say, “I’ve been living in two worlds. “I know it’s right, but I haven’t been doing it “and I need to repent. “I need to get right with God. “I need to recommit my life to Jesus. “He spoke into my heart. “I don’t wanna harden it.” If you need to make that recommitment to Christ, would you raise your hand up and let me pray for you right now? God bless you, anybody else? Raise your hand up high where I can see it please. God bless each one of you. Now you that have raised your hand, just pray this prayer after me wherever you are. Again, just pray this. In fact, you can pray it out loud right now. Pray this, Lord Jesus, I know I’m a sinner, but I know you are the Savior who died on the cross for me. I turn from my sin. I commit my life to follow you now. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
About Harvest Christian Fellowship
Their mission is to bring Christians closer to God and to bring nonbelievers to a saving relationship with Him. Harvest is committed to presenting the life-changing message of the gospel to the world. This happens through a variety of means, from the A New Beginning radio program to Harvest Crusades, large public evangelistic events.
About Pastor Greg Laurie
Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship with campuses in California and Hawaii. He is the author of more than 70 books and his daily radio program A New Beginning, is broadcast on more than 1,000 radio outlets daily across the nation and internationally.
Pastor Laurie is a featured speaker at Harvest Crusades held throughout the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The Lord continues to add to Harvest’s church family and it now has one of the largest congregations in America.
Laurie has a weekly television program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and he has appeared on many other television news programs. Greg has been married to Cathe Laurie for more than 40 years and they have two sons and five grandchildren.
- For the latest updates, news and information, visit them online at: https://www.harvest.org
Harvest Christian Fellowship Channel | Pastor Greg Laurie
Located north of the 91 Freeway at the intersection of Adams and Arlington, Riverside is Harvest’s main campus. Also the location of Harvest Christian School, the Harvest Bookstore, and Cafe 3:20 , the Riverside campus has been the hub of Harvest activity for more than 30 years.
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