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Knowing God’s Will is not Always Easy

Monday, January 11th, 2010 Posted in encouragement, essentials, family, Pastor's corner, sermons | 6 Comments »

Let me say something that may surprise you: The will of God is not always easy to discern.

Most of my Christian life is one of faith, where I read Scripture and pray for wisdom. Then I make decisions and act on them, hoping that I am in His will.

I hope that is not a disappointment to you.

Mission: Impossible

You may have thought that I get a message from God every day, just like on Mission: Impossible (cue theme song).

“Good morning, Mr. Laurie. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves leading a person named Joe Smith to Christ. He will be pumping gas at the station across from the church at 1:35 p.m. today. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.”

Supernaturally, naturally

In real life, the chances are that I will see my “idiot light” come on, and then pull over to get some gas. Old Joe will be standing there and say, “How ya doing?” And I will find myself smack dab in the middle of the will of God as I share Christ with him.

This is also true of the Christian life, in general.

Emotions will come and go. Some days, you “feel” more spiritual than others. Some days, you are very encouraged, and other days you are discouraged.

Hold the course

The best thing to do is just hold your course.

It’s not unlike marriage. You cannot expect have a euphoric high every day, where you heart flutters whenever your mate walks into the room.

I have been married to my wife Cathe for 35 years now. If I still felt the way around her that I did when I was first getting to know her, it would be absurd.

Imagine this: your spouse walks in the room and your heart flutters, your mouth goes dry, and your mind goes blank. My wife would think I was having a heart attack!

No, we have been married all these years and we have made a life-long commitment to each other. The same is true of our commitment to God. Those emotions come and go, and come again.

The Christian life is one of faith, not mere feeling. Scripture says “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).

So hold your course today.

What is Salvation?

Saturday, January 9th, 2010 Posted in essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons | 2 Comments »

I know what you are thinking: “What is salvation? Everyone already knows that.”

I wonder. This wonderful thing God has done for those who have put their faith in Christ is a lot deeper and wider than some of us may realize.

The question of “What is salvation?” is my topic this Sunday at Harvest, as we get back into the series Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know.

There are some other words I also want to explore that are often mentioned but rarely understood. Words like regeneration, justification, and adoption. Each one of those words is packed with action and power, and they are all part of this wonderful gift God has given to Christians called salvation.

So come on out to Harvest this Sunday to find out more. Our services are at 7:45 A.M., 9:45, A.M., and 11:45 A.M. This service will also be webcast live at harvest.org.

Weekend goodies

You may want to check out my weekend column at WorldNetDaily. Also, here is a link to my weekend devotion.

A New Decade Begins

Friday, January 8th, 2010 Posted in Pastor's corner, sermons | No Comments »

Is it just me, or did it seem like the year 2009 just sped by?

It seems the older you get, the faster time goes. When I was in elementary school, time seemed to crawl at a snail’s pace. Now, not only do years go by quickly, but so do entire decades!

Back in 2000, there was a collective sigh of relief when the ominous Y2K bug did not materialize. Embedded computer chips were supposed to stop working, commerce would end, and planes would fall out of the sky, etc. BTW, I never bought any of that.

The beginning of the decade could be summed up by a traveler named Luis Salcedo who, while boarding a flight in New Orleans on January 1, 2000, said, “Nothing to worry about now!”

Famous last words.

The wakeup call

This decade began with the global wake-up call of 9/11, as 2,973 people were murdered in cold blood. The official war against Islamic terrorism was on–and by the way, it still is!

We ended this tumultuous decade with an attempt by an Islamci terrorist to destroy an airline jet on Christmas Day. Our government has admitted there was a major breakdown in our security system.

Know this–the war on terrorism has not been stopped, not even for a New York minute. It’s time to face the facts that there are evil people willing to do the worst things imaginable.

Bad news

Yes, we live in a world filled with bad news.

This decade concluded with an economic meltdown. America has declined from the economic superpower we once were. Two of the Big Three automakers filed for bankruptcy.

This decade has seem some dramatic changes in technology as well. Did you know that texting didn’t exist at the beginning of this decade?

We started the decade with dial-up computer connections, foldable road maps, and five-pound phone books. When people wanted to trade a stock or make vacation reservation, they picked up the phone. They also licked stamps, checked answering machines, flipped Rolodexes, and inserted floppy discs.

But before the decade was over, we had Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Skype, and Hulu, along with the iPod, iPhone, and iTunes. We went from analog to digital, from tube TV to flatscreens.

Some good news

We have also seen the technology necessary for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled appear before our very eyes.

We have seen Iran and North Korea emerge as nuclear threats. We have seen the U.S. decrease as a superpower and China emerge. We have seen Israel become more isolated.

In short, we have seen many pieces of Bible prophecy begin to come true. So there is hope that we are indeed closer to the return of Jesus Christ.

I am looking forward to that. Aren’t you?

Tonight in Orange County

Thursday, January 7th, 2010 Posted in essentials, OC, sermons | 1 Comment »

I’ll be speaking tonight at our Thursday night study, which has been going on for more than eight months now. We have really seen the Lord bless this study, and best of all, we have seen more than 1,000 people make commitments to follow Jesus Christ.

Tonight, in addition to our outstanding praise band leading us in worship, Phil Wickham will join us to share some of his amazing songs. I will be sharing a message for the new year from God’s Word called “Good News in a Bad World.”

It all starts at 7:00 P.M. If you are in the Orange County area, be sure to join us. If you know someone who lives in Orange County, let them know!

Click here for all the information.

This Sunday at Harvest in Riverside

We will be back in our series, Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know, this Sunday at Harvest. I will share a message on the topic of salvation.

As Christians, we use the word “saved” a lot. But do we really know what salvation really is?

I think this message that I will share with you on Sunday may be a real ‘eye-opener’ for many. I know just preparing for it has been a great blessing.

I suggest that most believers do not realize just how awesome and vast salvation really is. It is something God has done, is doing, and will do in our future.

I’ll explain that all this Sunday at Harvest.

Good News in a Bad World

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010 Posted in encouragement, Pastor's corner, sermons | 2 Comments »

The title of this post is also my topic this Sunday at Harvest.

As we come not only to the beginning of a new year, but also the end of another decade, we see a world that is in chaos. Anyone who is hoping for a man-made solution to our global ills, and thinks that mankind will somehow create a Utopian paradise, needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

This war on terrorism has not stopped, even for a New York minute. We have to face the facts that there are evil people willing to do the worst things imaginable. There are so many difficult challenges we face as a nation and a world in this coming year.

Yes, we live in a world filled with bad news.

Good news for modern man

After I first became a Christian, I was given a modern translation of the Bible called “Good News for Modern Man.” Reading Scripture transformed and continues to transform the way I think and live.

This Sunday, I want to share with you a story from the Bible that shows Israel in dire straits. They were experiencing an economic meltdown, among other things.

We will see the problem, the promise, the people God chose to bring that promise, and the proclamation of good news that changed everything for them. Good news that could change us as well.

It all happens Sunday morning at Harvest. Our services are at 7:45 A.M., 9:45 A.M., and 11:45 A.M. at Harvest Christian Fellowship. For more info on how to get to Harvest, click here.

Also, all of our services are live and webcast at Harvest.org.

And don’t forget to check out my weekly column at WorldNetDaily, along with my long-form weekend devotion.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Friday, December 25th, 2009 Posted in sermons | 4 Comments »

May the Lord bless each and everyone of you as you celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ today.

I pray that you will be a radiant witness to family and friends. And remember to tell those that matter to you that you love them, especially your children and parents.

“Christmas, B.C.” Part 2 this Sunday at Harvest

Thursday, December 17th, 2009 Posted in OC, Pastor's corner, sermons | No Comments »

It has been said that “History swings on the hinge of the door of a stable in Bethlehem.”

This coming Sunday at Harvest in Riverside, I will be speaking on the greatest story ever told.

I am speaking, of course, of the story I never tire of telling–the day that God came to this earth as a baby. Theologians call it “The Incarnation.”

There is also a lot of human drama in this story, as we read about Mary having the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world supernaturally conceived in her womb, and then having to break that news to her unsuspecting fiance, Joseph.

My objective is to strip away the layers of tradition and “religiousness” that diminish this powerful event, so we can see it in all of its unvarnished raw glory.

If you are in the area, come and visit us in person. Otherwise, you can watch one of our online services at 7:45 A.M., 9:45 A.M., and 11:45 A.M., Pacific Time, at harvest.org.

The Christmas Story, Revisited

Saturday, December 12th, 2009 Posted in essentials, holidays, Pastor's corner, sermons | No Comments »

We have heard so many versions of the Christmas story that sometimes we don’t know where Scripture ends and where tradition begins. Frankly, if you only know a little about the birth of Jesus, it might be best for you to forget it and just start from scratch.

This story has been so sanitized and romanticized through the years that it has essentially been lost. There is a lot of tradition that has clouded the significance of this wonderful event.

This Sunday at Harvest, I want to try to clean some of the smudges off the glass and provide us a clearer look at what really happened on the first Christmas.

I hope you can join us for one of our services that take place at 7:45 A.M., 9:45 A.M., and 11:45 A.M., Pacific time. It will also be webcast live at harvest.org.

This and that

You may want to check out my article at WorldNetDaily on Christmas. Click here to read it.

Also, here is a link to my weekend long-form devotional.

Yes, It Is My Birthday Today

Thursday, December 10th, 2009 Posted in sermons | 50 Comments »

I asked my granddaughter Stella how old I was today, and she said, “6.” Despite the fact that I actually am 57, I am going to go with her opinion.

Thank you for your birthday greetings, one and all.

Christmas, B.C.

Thursday, December 10th, 2009 Posted in holidays, Pastor's corner, sermons | 10 Comments »

Christmas is the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the day when God became a man. But the first mention of Christmas was B.C.

You might ask, “How can the first mention of Christmas, or the birth of Jesus Christ, be B.C.? Doesn’t B.C. stand for ‘Before Christ’?”

Well, yes, it does, but Jesus began his human existence in Bethlehem. Jesus, being God, existed long before that day. He, like the Father, is eternal because He, like the Father, is God.

The real Christmas story does not begin in Bethlehem, or even on planet Earth. It begins in heaven, where it was determined that Jesus would come to this Earth.

The first mention of Christmas in the Bible

The first reference to Christmas, or the birth of Jesus, is in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

You might say, “That doesnt sound very Christmas-like to me!”

That statement was made by God after Satan misled Adam and Eve. The battle lines were being drawn.

God the Father was effectively saying, “Satan, there is One coming who will crush you.”

So Satan was waiting and watching for this Messiah that would come. He wanted to stop the Messiah, so he had to stop the Jewish people through whom the He would come.

Worse than the Grinch

We’ve all heard of Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Well, Satan is the real-life Grinch who tried to steal Christmas through the work of evil men.

  • The Pharoah tried to exterminate the Jews, starting with the Hebrew baby boys. But God spared Moses and the great exodus took place.
  • The wicked Haman tried to have the Jews wiped off the face of the earth. His plan was thwarted by Queen Esther, and he ended up hung on the gallows he had built for them.
  • And then, of course, King Herod–after hearing that one was born who was the King of the Jews–tried to kill Jesus, but that too failed.

Nothing would stop Messiah from coming, because God will always have the last word.

More on this tonight as I speak on Christmas, B.C.