I know that as you pray for me, and as the Holy Spirit helps me, this is all going to turn out for my good.
— Philippians 1:19
Sometimes I think that today’s “prosperity preachers” have hijacked a legitimate biblical term. After all, God does want His sons and daughters to prosper. But what does that really mean? That you’ll never get sick? Never have problems? Never run out of money? Never have strains in your relationships? No, that is not what the Bible means by “prosperity.”
Five years before making his journey to Rome, Paul wrote to the believers there and said in Romans 1:10, “Making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.” In other words, “Hey, would you guys pray for me? I’m coming your way. And pray that the Lord gives me a prosperous journey by the will of God.”
Did God answer his prayer? Yes. He did make it to Rome and had an amazing ministry there of preaching, teaching, discipleship, and writing. He just hadn’t understood that getting to Rome would mean false accusations, arrest, incarceration, and chains. He couldn’t have foreseen that it would involve hurricane-force winds at sea, shipwreck on an island, and the bite of a poisonous viper on the way.
The reality is that you can live a prosperous life in the will of God and still face fierce personal conflict and adversity. Paul went through a shipwreck on his way to Rome, but he had a prosperous journey by the will of God because of what it ultimately accomplished.
Facing storms and shipwrecks in our lives really isn’t a matter of if; it is a matter of when. So it’s time for us to get our sea legs under us. Rather than trying to avoid the storms of life, we need to learn how to get through them, how to survive them, and how to learn the lessons that we can only learn in such times and such places.
It has been said that you can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails. In other words, I can’t control all the elements of my world—or even very many of them at all. But I can control my reaction to them. I can adjust my sails—and adapt.
In Matthew 5:27–28, Jesus deals with lust in the heart: “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (NLT).
Jesus wasn’t talking about a casual glance.
Rather, He was referring to a continual act of looking.
In this usage, the idea is not an incidental or involuntarily glance, but an intentional and repeated gazing with the express purpose of lusting.
This statement doesn’t apply to men only. It also applies to women looking lustfully at men.
So this refers to looking at someone for the deliberate purpose of lusting.
You remember the story David and his fall with Bathsheba.
David was not at fault for happening to see Bathsheba bathing.
Perhaps he could not have helped noticing her.
One must wonder if Bathsheba knew he would be there and intentionally put herself in a place where she would be seen. No modest Hebrew woman would normally bathe publically.
Remember, this is a two-way street! If lustful looking is bad, then those who dress and expose themselves with the desire to be looked at and lusted after are not less but perhaps more guilty!
Girls, think about what you are wearing (or not wearing) before you leave your house!
How would you feel if it were Jesus who were taking you out somewhere?
This doesn’t mean you can’t dress cool and be in style. But don’t dress in such a way as to encourage a guy to lust after you.
You might protest, “But Greg, some guys would lust after a tree!”
True, but that doesn’t excuse you from having some modesty!
David’s sin was a continuous looking and then taking dramatic action. He misused his considerable power as king and had her brought to his bedroom.
Clearly, this “man after God’s own heart” was the most culpable in this sin.
What we must do is, to the best our abilities, “guard our minds.” That doesn’t mean you do not notice that a girl is pretty or a guy good-looking. This is talking about taking it to another place, where you lust or fantasize about them. We must “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”
(2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).
• If an offensive scene comes on in that movie theater, get up and walk out.
• If something on TV is sexually suggestive, turn the channel or turn it off.
• If an attractive girl/guy is walking your direction, look down.
• If a conversation with a member of the opposite sex becomes sexually suggestive, terminate it.
• Check out something before you watch it, read it, etc.
Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman” (Job 31:1 NLT).
Do I have your attention?
These are issues that we all deal with in life.
Even Christians get mad and lose their temper.
Is that always wrong?
Is there a place for retaliation in the life of the believer?
What about self-defense?
What does it mean to “Turn your Cheek” and “Go the extra mile?”
Was Jesus the ultimate pacifist?
We will talk about that and more at Harvest/Riverside and Orange County in my message “What Jesus taught about Anger,Hatred and Lust”.
You can join us in person for our services on both campus’s which are 8:00,10:00 AM and 12:00 PM.
All of these services are at Pacific Standard Time.
Or,you can watch the LIVE HD Webcast at www.harvest.org
Today is 9/11
The day we remember the horrific attack against the United States resulting in a tragic loss of life.
The day we remember those who died, and those who laid their lives down in rescue efforts.
It is also the day we remember our brave soldiers who have fought and laid down their lives for the freedom we far too often take for granted.
Here is an article that was run last Saturday at the WorldNetDaily website, that I wrote on the topic of 9/11.
Did 9/11 Change Our Beliefs?
In the days following 9/11, I was interviewed by a number of newspapers and magazines. The journalists wanted to know how something so horrible, so unthinkable, could take place not only in the United States of America, but in New York City? They just couldn’t comprehend the wickedness, the capacity of someone who could kill thousands of people and lose their own lives in the process.
I reminded them that not only was there a God, but there was a devil, and that mankind was not basically good as we often hear, but that mankind is basically bad. In fact, the Bible teaches that mankind is sinful to the very core. People were shocked by this.
Our churches were packed like never before in the aftermath of this horrific attack. I remember well Sunday, Sept. 16, 2001, at the church where I pastor. It was the largest single attendance we have ever had in the history of the church. It was my hope and prayer that it would be a spark that would ultimately lead to a revival that would sweep our nation. But that has not happened. In fact, something quite surprising has taken place since 9/11.
A survey conducted by the Barna Research Group in Ventura, Calif., revealed that instead of a return to God after the attacks, there has been a resurgence of moral relativism.
This survey found that in the wake of 9/11, a mere 22 percent of a sample group of Americans told Barna’s researchers they still believed in absolute moral truth. That is compared with 38 percent in January 2000. That is saying more people believed there was such a thing as evil before 9/11 than now.
It would seem that more people would believe there is evil and more people would believe mankind is basically bad when they saw it demonstrated in such a dramatic way. But the opposite has occurred.
Moral relativism, which is basically the lack of moral absolutes, is more widespread than we may think. According to moral relativism, your truth is your truth, and my truth is my truth. And just because something is true to you doesn’t necessarily mean that it is true to me. In other words, there is no right or wrong.
This view would say that it is not right for us as the West, as the United States, to say that the actions of another nation are wrong. Who are we to say what is right and wrong? Moral relativism teaches that we are all products of the evolutionary process, and there is no God, there is no devil, and there is no evil. Instead, we make our own luck, we create our own faith, and we are all basically good inside.
If we do something bad, then it is not our fault because we are victims of our upbringing or environment. Moral relativism teaches there are no absolutes; it is the freedom from all restraint.
What I find interesting is that if you disagree with this viewpoint, then you are insensitive. If you have the audacity to say that you believe there is right and wrong or there is good and evil, then you are classified as insensitive, intolerant, bigoted and narrow-minded. If you dare to quote the Bible and say it is the source of truth, then you will be accused of pushing your puritanical belief system and values on someone else.
Although moral relativism has actually gained ground, the percentage of people who say they pray regularly since 9/11 has gone from 84 to 85 percent. On one hand, more people are saying there is no such thing as right and wrong, good and evil, and there is no God or devil. But on the other hand, we pray more than we did before.
Barna’s survey also found that Americans’ “personal commitment to Christ” remained stable at 68 percent and even increased among the youngest group from 58 to 61 percent. That may seem good, but actually I think it is relatively bad. These same people, when polled, did not believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, nor did they believe that the devil is real. Rather, they classified him as a mere metaphor.
This essentially tells me that people are creating a whole new god, a god who doesn’t believe in right or wrong and doesn’t give us standards to live by. In essence, they have created a god in their own image.
Let me say something that might be controversial, but it is basic, biblical Christianity: Jesus Christ is the only way to God. All roads don’t lead to a relationship with God, and all religions don’t teach the same thing.
Someone who says she believes in God, believes she should pray, but doesn’t think Jesus is the only way cannot be a Christian. If you are a true Christian, then you have to believe the Bible. The very idea of being a Christian and knowing God comes from the Bible. We don’t make up the rules as we go.
I can’t go out on the streets today and say, “I have made up a new rule. I think that it is OK for me to drive 120 miles per hour. I believe it is OK for me to walk into a store and take whatever I want. It is mine for the taking.” I can believe these things, but soon I will have a new prison ministry. There are rules. There are absolutes. And whether I believe in them or not, those rules are still true.
Therefore I can’t come to the Bible and say, “I like this, and I like that, but I am not so sure I agree with this part of the Bible.” It is a package deal. We take it the way God gives it. False belief systems and false religions will keep us from God and not bring us to Him.
What concerns me is there are more people today who say they believe, but they don’t believe what the Bible says. I think that is why this country is in the state that it is in today and why there is no regard for human life.
The basis of morality is belief, and the basis of belief is the Bible. That gives us the absolute truth on which we can base our faith. And when we don’t have this belief, then we have chaos.
The story is told of President Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what he said.
One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.”
The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.”
It was not until the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. The ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming!”
Clearly the others were not listening!
This is why Jesus would often say,”He that has ears to hear,let him hear.”(Matt.11:15)
Or another way to translate it,”Listen up!”
The success or failure of our Christian life depends on how we hear God’s Word. It is no light thing to constantly hear the Scriptures preached and taught.
Those who hear are made more responsible than they ever were before.
So,let’s make sure we pay careful attention to what Scripture says,as it is the very word of God.
Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness!
It’s not getting my will in heaven but getting God’s will on earth.
Martin Luther said, “By our praying, we are instructing ourselves more than Him.”
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14–15 NKJV).
Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God. God only answers the requests which He inspires.
Prayer is surrender—surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will.
It’s like being on a boat, and I throw the boathook to the shore and pull. Do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore?
Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but aligning my will to the will of God.
Why is it that some people, after accepting Christ, take off spiritually and never stop?
They just go from fruitfulness to even greater fruitfulness.
Then there are others we know that take off like a rocket, then inexplicably, they crash and burn.
As we reflect back on the SoCal Harvest Crusade, at 15,000 people in total who made a profession of faith, we pray they will get and stay strong spiritually.
If you know one of these people, or you are yourself one of these people, make sure you tune into my message at Harvest Riverside and Orange County tomorrow.
We will also be showing an amazing documentary film about what God did at the crusade this year.
For more information, go to www.harvest.org.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” —Ephesians 6:18
We use the word “pray” a lot; it is a general term.
You can pray publically, privately, verbally, silently.
You can be kneeling, standing, sitting, lying down, or even driving.
You can pray with your eyes open or closed! (Ever make eye contact with someone while praying?)
The main thing is to pray!
You can pray in any position, anytime, anywhere.
Sometimes we think that perhaps the Lord will hear our prayers more readily if they are prayed in a church building. But that is not necessarily true.
• Daniel prayed in a lion’s den.
• David prayed in a field.
• Peter’s prayed on and under the water.
• Jonah’s prayer was heard from the belly of a whale!
Surely God will hear your prayer wherever you are.
The main thing is that you are “praying always”—morning, afternoon, and evening.
“Pray without ceasing . . . for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Why do some run the race of life and win while others lose?
Why do some succeed while others fail miserably?
Because of choices—hundreds of choices that we make every single day.
We make our choices and then our choices make us.
The Bible says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure.” That verse does not say, “Work FOR your own salvation” but “Work OUT your salvation.”
We need to work out what God has worked in. But it is “God who works in us” as this passage reminds us.
So, there is God’s part and there is our part.
As far as our part goes, it comes down to discipline. There are things we must do to grow and be strong spiritually—things like Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship with other believers.
We ignore these to our own peril.
You show me a person who is successful at anything and I will show you discipline. It is turning away from what will hurt you spiritually and embracing what will help you, cutting loose anything that would slow you down or impair your performance.
A concert violinist in New York’s Carnegie Hall was asked how she became so skilled. She said that it was by “planned neglect.”
In other words, she made a conscious decision to neglect everything that was not related to her goal.
2 Timothy 2:22 tells us, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts” (NLT).
We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.
— Philippians 3:20
An old chorus begins, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” That is literally true. The Bible says that when you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you become a citizen of heaven because that is your real home.
That is why we find ourselves with a deep-down longing for something this earth can never deliver. And that is also why we always will be a bit out of tune with this world and all it celebrates. Have you noticed? Sometimes the world will parade its toys and its so-called pleasures before you, and you’ll find yourself saying, deep down in your spirit, “That just leaves me cold. That is not what I desire. That is not what I want at all.” As followers of Jesus, we’ve tasted much, much better things than these.
C. S. Lewis described this longing with these words: “There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.” He went on to say of heaven, “It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want.”
I liken it to a homing instinct that God has placed inside some of His creatures. We all know that some animals have a mysterious ability to migrate or travel great distances to very specific locations. It’s like a natural GPS system that God has placed inside them.
One of these days we’ll be going home too — home to a place we’ve never been. Heaven is more real to me than it has ever been because of those who are already there. My son Christopher is there, as is my mom, and the father who adopted me. Friends I have known through the years are on the other side now, and so are many familiar faces from our church.
Don’t get me wrong: There is much wonder, beauty, joy, and fulfillment in this life God has given us on earth. But what makes all these things even better is the sure knowledge that the best is yet to come.