What we think about is really important.
In Philippians 4:8, the apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things” (NKJV).
Another translation puts it this way: “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (THE MESSAGE).
What we think about ultimately affects what we do
Therefore, we must nip in the bud any thoughts that are impure, spiritually harmful, or that feed the beast of worry. This means refusing to play the “What If” game, driving yourself to despair.
You remember the first temptation, when Satan came to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:1 says, “Now the Serpent was more Cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (NKJV)
He did not introduce himself by saying, “Hi, I’m the Devil, the enemy of God, and I have come to ruin, destroy, and pull you into hell with me and my demons!” He may be wicked,but he isn’t stupid!
The Devil is like a snake
When the Devil comes to us, he comes with subtlety, snake-like, slithering in when you least expect it. People don’t always keep their guard up for him either.
I read about a large python that ate a family’s dog, a silky terrier-chihuahua crossbreed. The children, ages 5 and 7, watched as the snake finished his meal.
This is sad, but also odd. The local zoo owner, who eventually came and picked up the snake, said, “The family that owned the dog had actually seen it in the dog’s bed, which was a sign it was out to get it.”
“They should have called me then, but (the snake) got away . . . and came back,” he added.
We can be like that with the Devil
He has essentially plopped himself right in our bed, and we pay him no mind. “Oh, he won’t be back,” we think to ourselves.
But just like that python, he is stalking you! Don’t underestimate his power, and don’t leave your mind open to his attack.
As a snake, Satan attacked Eve’s mind. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (NASB).
Why? Because it is here in “command central” that we reason, contemplate, and fantasize. Your mind can reach into the past through memories, and into the future through imagination.
Train your brain!
You need to train your mind to think properly and biblically. We read in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we should cast down “arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
This is why I am teaching this new series on Sundays and Thursdays called Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know. Because we as believers need to learn how to think more clearly.
Just some things to think about today.
When we think of God, we usually consider that fact that He is righteous, holy, loving, and good. But here is something else to consider about God: He is the God who has suffered.
We don’t tend to think that a perfect Creator would experience such a human trait as human pain and suffering. After all, why would you suffer if you did not have to?
But God has suffered,and that more deeply than any of us could ever imagine.
In his book The Cross of Christ, John Stott said, “Our God is a suffering God.” And I think he is right.
Listen to Isaiah’s description of what Jesus (who was God) went through at Calvary:
“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief . . . Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5 NKJV)
“A man of suffering.” That was Jesus.
But why did God suffer?
Because He loved and loves. That means He also enters into our suffering as well.
Hebrews 2:17-18 tells us:
”Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and temptation, he is able to help us when we are being tempted” (NLT).
You are not alone in your suffering today. Jesus has been there and walked in your shoes and He is here for you right now.
Call out to Him.
This Sunday at Harvest
I will deal with this idea and more in a message I will be giving this Sunday morning at Harvest. The message is titled “Why Did Jesus Have to Suffer and Die?”
This is part of our new series, Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know. I hope you can come and join us, or tune in and watch online. It will also be broadcast live in Southern California at 9:45 a.M. on KWVE (107.9 FM).
Links to other resources
Tonight is our third night of our new Thursday Bible study in Orange County, California.
I will be speaking on “Jesus Christ: God with Us.” This is part of our new series called Essentials: What Every Christian Needs To Know.
I hope you can come and join us if you are in the area.
Speaking on Skid Row
As you may remember, I had the privilege of sharing the gospel on Skid Row this last Thanksgiving. This was part of my Aunt Willie’s annual outreach through the Fred Jordan Mission.
Here is a short video clip of excerpts from my presentation.
As you all know, the O.C. Thursday night Bible study is off and running. This coming Thursday, I will be in our new Essentials series, and my topic will be “Jesus: God With Us.”
Richard Abanes, who is an outstanding apologist and writer, has been in attendance the last two weeks. He recently wrote about what happened last Thursday night.
So, with his permission, I thought I would share it with you.
Theology Without Apology: Greg Laurie – Week #2
By Richard Abanes
” . . . Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35).
* * *
As the worship music continued, I glanced around the spirit-filled sanctuary to see a young couple to my left. They were standing, eyes closed, hands raised, lifting their voices Godward as they gently rocked back and forth, to and fro:
Lord of all creation,
Of water, earth, and sky,
The heavens are your tabernacle,
Glory to the Lord on high . . .
To my left an elderly woman, hair long-since grayed, hands wrinkled by time, sat motionless with her head bowed in reverence to the King of Kings, her lips moving ever so slightly, almost whispering her praises to God:
Early in the morning,
I will celebrate the light,
When I stumble in the darkness,
I will call you name by night . . .
As more saints stood to honor their Lord, and more hands were raised as a sign of humble submission to Jesus Christ, I could see the signs everywhere—God was in this place in a very special way and He was already doing great things:
God of wonders, beyond our galaxy
You are holy, holy . . .
The universe declares Your majesty
You are holy, holy . . .
So began Week Two of Greg Laurie’s Thursday night Bible study in the O.C. (Irvine, CA). His ongoing series on the “Essentials of the Faith” progressed with an in-depth look at several more attributes of God and how they not only they affect us, but also how we should respond to them as we seek to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Creator.
“God exists,” Laurie began, “and is the Creator of the universe and mankind.”
Then, working from the book of Numbers, chapter six, Laurie quickly recapped his previous week’s teaching on God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, moving seemlessly into preaching a length on God’s sovereignty, which is often a misunderstood attribute of God, if not a forgotten one—especially in times of deep suffering.
“God is sovereign,” Laurie explained. And by sovereignty, he meant that God alone is in control of all that happens around us—the good, the bad, the highs, the lows, and everything in between. God does not need to ask permission from anyone to do as he pleases, the way he pleases, when he pleases, and how he pleases.
For some who may have been present, this was no doubt a difficult truth to hear. But Laurie acknowledged that, giving a heartfelt word of understanding to those facing pain and suffering in their lives—and wrestling with the question: Where is God?
The answer Laurie pointed to, based on Scripture, was right on target: God is with you. Through it all, God is with you. You are not alone. And God is watching and has his reasons for allowing the difficulties we face to come into our lives.
Laurie went on to reveal that suffering can actually be a blessing because “crises produces dependency on God.” And it was obvious that Laurie was again speaking from personal experience. It was not some theoretical, doctrinal position being dispensed from an ivory tower. It was a man of God sharing from his own heart what he himself had to learn about God in the depths of his own despair and anguish.
The teaching moved forward from “God is sovereign” to God is “true,” “holy,” “righteous,” “good,” and “loving.” Most interesting was how Laurie made these attributes particularly relevant to our every day lives by explaining how such attributes of God are to be reflected in us.
If God is true, you be true.
If God is holy, you be holy.
If God is righteous, you be righteous.
If God is good, you be good.
If God is loving, you be loving.
In closing, as always, an invitation was given for those who did not yet know Jesus. The call was for them to step forward and make a faith commitment to him and by grace receive forgiveness and eternal life. Once more, just as it happened last week, there was another harvest of souls as dozens walked to the front of the sanctuary in response to the Holy Spirit’s call upon their heart, and there they prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
God is moving mightily through this new Bible study and I want to encourage everyone to come, bring someone who doesn’t yet know Christ as Lord, be blessed with them at your side, and if led by God, help out wherever you might be needed. I’ll see you at the study!
OK, you guys asked for it, and here it is.
After I did the “How to Cook Scrambled Eggs” video, I mentioned that the only other thing I can make is a quesadilla. Many of you asked me to do a video for that too, so here it is.
This “how-to” video has one very special feature: my oft-mentioned granddaughter, Stella Laurie.
So watch it and have a laugh. It was done for fun. I really have no culinary skills whatsoever.
We had a great night at Maranatha Chapel, Pastor Ray Bentley’s church in San Diego.
We showed the newly-edited, full-length Lost Boy documentary, followed by a message. I also interviewed my son Jonathan, who gave his testimony.
You have to understand that Jonathan is not really a public speaker, nor did he ever aspire to be one. But that all changed after his brother went to heaven. Jonathan made a complete commitment to follow and serve the Lord, and God is using him powerfully.
He gave his most effective presentation yet last night, and I was very proud of him. When he is speaking, I look out and notice that everyone really tunes in, especially the kids!
We saw 120 people come forward to make commitments and re-commitments to follow Christ.
Thursday nights in O.C.
Tonight is our second Thursday night Bible study. We were overwhelmed by the response on our first night, and we pray that God will bless it once again.
My message title is “The God Who Cares.” If you, or anyone you know, is in the O.C. area, please let them know about our study.
Thanks for your prayers.
Since the departure of my son Christopher to heaven, one of the questions I get asked the most is, “How is Brittany (Christopher’s wife) doing?”
In this video interview, we talk about that very question, and how she has put her trust in the Lord during this time. I think you will see why I dedicated my new book to her, “a courageous young woman of God.”
Let Brittany know what you think, as she’ll be reading your comments.