“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4).
David wrote, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek….” He was saying that one thing that really excited him was spending time in the presence of God.
Mary knew this one thing, too, when Jesus came to visit her and her sister Martha in the little village of Bethany. She sat down at His feet, absolutely riveted by everything He had to say.
Cooking for Jesus
Martha, a hardworking woman, wanted to impress the Lord with the fine meal she was preparing. Who wouldn’t, if you had a guest like Jesus? Can you imagine Jesus showing up at your house? You would want to offer Him your best, right? You wouldn’t give Him a microwave dinner or reheated food from last night. You would want to prepare a special meal.
As Martha was working away, she undoubtedly kept looking for Mary. Where is Mary? I can’t believe she’s not in here. Finally in frustration, she came out—probably with her hands on her hips—and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
One thing is needed.
Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
Mary figured out one thing, and that was the importance of sitting at Jesus’ feet. What is your “one thing”? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What keeps you going, even through heartaches and trials and disappointments?
Forgetting the Past
In Philippians 3:13-14, the apostle Paul said: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Paul said, “But one thing I do.” He didn’t say, “Twelve things I dabble at.” In other words, Paul’s life had a strong focus that helped him prioritize everything else.
Why is the church in the world today?
By the church, I am not speaking of buildings, but rather followers of Jesus Christ. Or to put it another way, why are YOU and I in this world today?
What should our objective be as followers of Jesus Christ?
Jesus told a Parable that we will be exploring this Sunday at Harvest best known as “The Parable of the Wheat and Tares.”
In this earthly story with a heavenly meaning (the definition of a parable), Jesus tells about a farmer who sowed his seed in a field. Jesus tells us that the seed would represent His people and the field would be our culture (see Matthew 13:38).
So, back to my question: Why are we in this world as Christians?
God has placed the believer in this world to make an impact. God is not calling us to isolate but to infiltrate.
To change metaphors, we are to be both salt and light! Salt, in that we seek to stop the spread of corruption and wickedness. Light, in that we live godly lives, doing good works, and preaching the gospel.
How does this work practically? I will address this and much more in my message this Sunday at Harvest Riverside.
The title is “Genuine Imitation.”
Our service times are 7:45/9:45/11:45 AM and 5:00 PM, PST.
It’s also all webcast live at www.harvest.org.
When you become a Christian, one of the more notable changes is that you will give up many of the things you once did. Of course, this depends on your lifestyle prior to your conversion. But for many of us, a dramatic change will take place.
I have heard people share their stories of how they came to Christ and the great sacrifices they made to follow Him, saying things like, “I had a great life…I went to parties…I had so much fun…But I gave it all up for Jesus Christ, hallelujah! I left it all for the glory of God!”
What did we really give up?
When I hear statements like that, I feel like asking, “What in the world are you talking about? You gave it all up? What did you give up?”
If they were to look at those things honestly and realistically, they would come to the same conclusion that Paul did. He said, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…” (Philippians 3:7-8).
Is it slowing me down?
Paul was saying that the stuff that used to be so important, the stuff he once valued so highly, meant nothing to him now in comparison with the awesome privilege and value of belonging to Jesus.
We might do well to bring certain activities or habits in our lives under the same scrutiny. It’s a good idea to periodically ask ourselves, “Is this thing that I am doing slowing me down or speeding me along in my walk with God? Is it building me up spiritually or is it tearing me down?”
The conclusion has to be the same: If anything is keeping you from an intimate, open-hearted relationship with God through Jesus Christ, whatever that thing may be, you must count it as a loss.
In a day when we seem to have lost the definition of true courage, I want to pay tribute to a genuine hero. No, he’s not an athlete or a rock star, the type of celebrity we erroneously name as heroes. I’m speaking here of a man who lived—and died—by firm convictions. Those convictions were revealed on January 8 during the massacre in the Safeway parking lot in Tucson, Arizona.
This hero’s name is Judge John Roll.
He had just attended Mass, and stopped by the event where Congresswoman Giffords was speaking to make a social call. Then tragedy struck. Deranged killer Jared Lee Loughner pulled out a pistol and began firing. When it was all done, six people were dead. Among those who died was Judge Roll.
While most of the media seemed obsessed with finger-pointing and trying to find some cause and effect between talk radio and the actions of a lone, deranged shooter, a story of heroism has been largely missed. A video of the massacre revealed that Judge Roll literally laid his life down to save another. The judge was shot as he knocked down and then shielded a congressional aide Ron Barber from more of the bullets fired by Loughner. According to a sheriff’s department employee who viewed the video, Judge Roll placed himself over Barber while Loughner continued firing. In a final act of hatred, the hardened Loughner shot Judge John Roll in the back.
“The judge is a hero,” said Pima County Sheriff’s Chief Rick Kastigar. “Judge Roll is directly responsible for directing Mr. Barber out of the line of fire and helped save his life.”
We all wonder what we would do under such circumstances, but I am convinced that Judge Roll’s Christian faith played a major roll in his actions on January 8. I know this because Judge Roll’s son, Robert, wrote me only a couple of days after his father’s death to talk about the private life of this hero.
Robert granted me permission to use his letter in this article. He wrote:
I wanted to take a moment to send you an e-mail to tell you thank you. My dad, Judge John Roll was one of the victims that passed away in the shooting in Tucson, AZ on January 8th. My dad would download your podcasts daily and listen to them on his way to work. I am not sure if he sent you a letter in the past, but he always enjoyed your preaching. We would talk weekly and discuss your podcast. You have also given me strength in the past through your preaching and helped me guide my family. Again I wanted to say “thank you” for your work, and the spiritual strength that you had given my dad and the inspiration and strength you have given me. Please keep us on your thoughts and prayers.
I was deeply moved and humbled by the email from Robert Roll. We have a radio broadcast called A New Beginning, and a related podcast that airs Monday through Friday of Bible teachings that I do from Harvest Christian Fellowship, the church that I pastor in Southern California.
I am so thankful that Judge Roll and his son found those messages to be an inspiration. In a link to an article Robert Roll sent to me, it was said of his father:
“He liked mentoring young Christian attorneys because he believed their faith gave them a better moral foundation for the vocation of law. He was more of a father figure than a boss. He knew our families, and he always wanted to hear the news about them….”
That’s the kind of man John Roll was. A man who loved God and His word. A man who loved his family and co-workers. A man who even loved a stranger enough to die trying to save him.
I call that a hero.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). That’s exactly what the judge did on that tragic day. In a split second, he made a decision to literally sacrifice his life to save another.
It has been said, “Character is not made in crisis, it is revealed.” John Roll put that character on display at 10:10 in the morning in a parking lot in Arizona, and serves as an inspiration to us all.
So I pay tribute today to a man of faith and courage, Judge John Roll. I trust that the good judge will hear the Heavenly Judge say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord” (Matthew 25:21).
News source: Reporter Dan Mangan, New York Post, January 20, 2011
We have all seen knock-offs of popular products, music, clothes, etc. Whenever something is successful, there are the inevitable imitations to follow.
Did you know that happens in the spiritual world too? Satan has his “knock-offs” or “genuine imitations” of real Christians out there. It’s one of his most clever strategies.
The very phrase “genuine imitation” is what we call an oxymoron. An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms.
But sadly, there are some people pretending to be Christians when they are not.
Wheat and Tares
Jesus told a parable about wheat and tares being planted together.
One, the wheat, was genuine. The other, the tare, was not.
How can we tell a real believer from a “fake” one? More importantly, are we real believers? We will learn more about that tonight at Harvest Orange County.
Bring someone with you who does not yet know the Lord.
For more info, go to http://www.harvest.org/oc/general-information/thursdays-with-greg-laurie.html.
Last month I led a group of motorcycle riders to the Fred Jordan Mission at LA’s Skid Row to deliver toys and gifts for needy children. The Mission was started by my uncle Fred Jordan over 50 years ago and is now run by my aunt, Willie Jordan.
Check out the video of our ride.
I am so glad that God will overrule my prayers at times, because I have prayed for things fervently, believing they were the will of God, and they were flat-out wrong. I am so thankful that God said no to those prayers.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, as the cross was getting closer, Jesus prayed to the Father.
And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:41-42)
Yet I have actually heard some people say, “Never pray, ‘Not my will, but Yours be done.’ That is a lack of faith.” Some have even said, “What you should really pray is, ‘Not Your will, but mine be done.’”
Let’s just say that I don’t want to be standing too close to those people when lightning strikes, because they have things turned around.
Thy will be done.
Never be afraid to pray, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” By saying that, you are simply saying, “Lord, I don’t know all the facts. I don’t know everything there is to know. My knowledge is limited. My experience is limited. So if what I am praying is outside of Your will for any reason, please graciously overrule it.” You won’t always understand how you should pray. What it comes down to is telling God that you want His will more than your own.
I know this is hard at times. Sometimes you don’t understand why God doesn’t give you what you ask for. When you’re young and single, you may see a handsome guy or beautiful girl and just know that person is the one for you. But as the lyrics to a country song say, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.”
As time passes, you will look back with 20/20 hindsight, and you will say, “Thank God He did not answer my prayers,” or “Thank God He answered my prayers,” whichever the case may be.
Finally…remember the words of Jesus: “Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (Matthew 6:32-33, NLT)
Today at Harvest/Riverside I want to talk about how to bring forth spiritual fruit.
Listen, this is a big deal to God!
Jesus said “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16).
I am amazed how people will debate endlessly the issue of who is chosen or not chosen by God. Yet in the process, how many ask the question, “WHY was I chosen by God?”
Here is the answer from Jesus: to go bear Fruit.
What is it?
So, my question to you is, are you a spiritually fruitful believer? What is spiritual fruit exactly?
We will explore that and more in my message tonight: “The Parable of Spiritual Growth, Part 2.”
I will also be joined by that amazing band of brothers, the Katinas!
The Katinas have been featured for many years now at our Harvest Crusades, so this is a rare opportunity to hear them at our Church.
Our service times are 7:45/9:45/11:45 am and 5:00 pm.
It will all be wecast live at www.harvest.org
When you want to get in shape, it’s actually through the process of tearing your muscles down that you build them up. The first day of your workout isn’t so hard. But the next day, you’re in some serious pain. Everything hurts. The next time, you feel weak, but you work out anyway. A couple of days later, you’re still weak and sore, but you’re also a little stronger. You increase the weights a bit, then you do a little more. Pretty soon, you notice that you’re getting stronger. It is through the breaking-down process that the building up comes.
Building Spiritual Endurance
In the same way, we need to build up our spiritual muscles. God allows us to go through difficulties. He increases the weights on us. Pretty soon, we are benching a whole lot more than we ever thought possible. We’re learning more than we ever thought we would learn. We’re doing more than we ever thought we would do. Iron is entering our souls, and we are developing that heroic endurance, perseverance, and strength that only comes through difficulty.
The Bible tells us, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). In the original language, the word used here for patience means, “perseverance,” “endurance,” “steadfastness,” or simply “staying power.”
God has a purpose.
If you find yourself going through a time of testing and trial, realize that God has a purpose in it. Most likely, He is preparing you and training you today for what He will do in your life tomorrow.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us. (Romans 5:3-5, Phillips)