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Archive for October, 2012

Non-Negotiables

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 Posted in sermons | 5 Comments »

“Greg, don’t talk about those issues. They’re too political.”

That’s one of the reactions I receive when I speak about the movement in our country to “normalize” homosexuality, and redefine the concepts of marriage and family.
Are these political issues? Maybe. But more to the point, these are moral and Biblical issues. And what I have said before I say again: We tamper with God’s order at our own great peril.
Just because there are political ramifications to moral issues doesn’t mean that we avoid talk them. Slavery was once a political issue, too. Was it wrong to own slaves? In fact, it was people like British Parliamentarian William Wilberforce and President Abraham Lincoln who stepped into the gap on this moral and social evil, in the face of great opposition.

Homosexual Marriage

We hear people say, “I don’t understand. If two people of the same sex love each other, why can’t they get married?”
Here is the simple answer: Homosexuality is outside of God’s order, and no amount of emotional arguments or political spin can change that precept of Scripture. It’s the same with a man and a woman living together outside of marriage: That is not in His order, either.
God isn’t “anti-gay,” He is anti-sin, no matter how it is expressed.
Does that make the person who opposes gay marriage “homophobic”? We could just as easily say that the person who denies the timeless truths of the Bible is bibliaphobic.
If you dare to speak out against any sin in today’s world, someone will brand you as “something-phobic.” Well, so be it. I will admit to being a sinaphobic. And here is what God says about sinners not entering His kingdom: “Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers—none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NLT).
How clear that is! There is nothing confused or ambiguous about the way the Bible speaks to this topic. In fact, there is no confusion on this issue, unless your confusion is with the Bible itself.
If you still have your doubts, read Paul’s words in Romans 1:22-27. In no uncertain terms, the apostle lays out truth that the passing of millennia and the morphing of culture cannot change: homosexuality is degrading sexual impurity, and goes directly against the Creator’s established order. What is that order? Marriage is to be between a man and a woman. Period.
“Well,” someone might say, “my God would never say that.”
The fact is, there is only one God, who has revealed Himself in the pages of Scripture. Any other “god” isn’t a god at all, but an idol.
Someone else will counter, “But aren’t gay people born that way?”
I don’t accept that. I believe that all people are born sinners, and every one of us came from the womb with a sinful nature. As sinners, some of us are drawn to certain temptations and some are drawn to others. The fact is, some may be attracted to those of the same sex. But that doesn’t mean that a man or woman should act on those temptations any more than a person who is tempted to steal, lie, lust, or murder.
We must respect the marriage of a man and woman, and give it the honor that it deserves. How I thank God for the couples who have stayed together through difficult times, and raised their children to know and love God.

Abortion

When it comes to many of the hot-button topics of the day, you can usually find good people on both sides of the issue. But when it comes to the topic of abortion, or killing a pre-born baby, there can be no
debate. The fact is, the Bible is very clear about when human life begins: It begins at conception.
Listen to David’s prayer as he spoke about being in the womb before birth: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book” (Psalm 139:13-16).
These verses show that God had a distinct plan for each of us, before we were born. In Jeremiah 1:5 He declares: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.”
Each child, no matter what the circumstances of his or her conception, is created by God and should be given the chance to live. God doesn’t say, “I waited until you were born to have a plan for you, because you really weren’t human yet, but only a mass of tissue.”
Max Lucado put it this way: “You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on this earth by the Master Craftsman.”
I myself was conceived out of wedlock, and how thankful I am that my mother chose to carry me to term. God has a plan for my life! And God has a plan for every baby, regardless of the circumstances surrounding its conception. In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as an “illegitimate child.”
Despite these truths, abortions are commonplace in our culture today. Since the passing of Roe vs. Wade in the early 70s, 50 million babies have been aborted in our country. An abortion occurs every 15 seconds in America, and has grown into a 500-million-dollars-a-year industry.
Abortion is not the answer to the stress surrounding an unplanned pregnancy. It leaves “one dead and one wounded” in its wake. If you have conceived a child and it’s at all possible, marry the father and raise the child. If you can’t do that, raise the child as a single mom. And if you can’t do either of these, carry the child to term and put the baby up for adoption.
Difficult as those options might seem, that child will at least be given a chance at life.
Homosexual marriage and abortion are more than two debatable, negotiable “election issues” in a contentious political cycle. They are moral, Biblical issues involving God’s order and life itself. Elections and candidates may come and go, but God will hold our nation accountable for how we confront these sins in our time.

This Weekend at Harvest: Hot Button Issues!

Saturday, October 27th, 2012 Posted in sermons | 2 Comments »

I have a question for you-

Do you have a biblical worldview?
By that I mean, are your opinions formed by what the Bible says or by your fickle emotions?

Or perhaps they are formed by what is popular at the moment in contemporary culture.

My concern is that some well-meaning but misled Christians today do not really have a completely biblical way of looking at things.

This is of the greatest importance, as it will effect us in the way we think, live, and yes, the way way that we vote!

Here is the thing. . .Everyone has a worldview.

The question is, is it a secular or biblical one?

I want to talk about what we might call “hot-button” issues in my message this weekend at Harvest.

Among other things, we will look at God’s definition of the family, gay marriage, homosexuality, capital punishment and abortion.

There is no confusion on these issues as far as I am concerned, unless your confusion is with the Bible.

So, let’s consider that together, in my message taken from the final six commandments.

The title is “Hot Button Issues” and I will deliver it at Harvest Riverside and Orange County.

Also, we will have special music from the recently reunited band Big Tent Revival!

For more info, go to www.harvest.org.

Tonight at Harvest Orange County

Thursday, October 25th, 2012 Posted in sermons | No Comments »

I love the word “blessing.” It does get thrown around a lot these days. If you want people to bless you, just sneeze!

But what does it mean to be blessed? Fact is, the word “blessing” is a biblical word.

Blessings are for believers, not for nonbelievers. And I have good news for you. If you are a child of God, He wants to bless you even more than you want to be blessed!

But what does that even mean?

Maybe you feel more “cursed” then blessed at times. If so, you need to understand God’s heart toward you.

It is all contained in this statement that the Lord told the priests of Israel to pronounce over the people on a regular basis:

“The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”‘
“So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
(Numbers 6:24 -27)

I want to talk about that TONIGHT at Harvest Orange County in my message “What God Is Like.”

We will also be joined in music by the recently reunited Big Tent Revival.

It all starts at 7:00 PM, and will also be webcast LIVE at www.harvest.org.

Light in a Very Dark Place

Saturday, October 20th, 2012 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

We are studying the Book of Revelation together on Sundays at Harvest.

The word revelation means “unveiling,” reminding us that it is not God’s desire to conceal but to reveal to us what is happening and will happen in our world.
This Sunday,we look at Revelation 11, where we see the Jewish temple rebuilt. Antichrist is in power wreaking havoc on the earth and things are looking pretty bleak. Then, the Lord raises up two mighty witnesses to proclaim His truth in a very dark place. This reminds us that God always has His man or woman in the right place to do His work.

Perhaps you are the only Christian in your family, neighborhood, or workplace. You will find encouragement as we look at this exciting chapter together.

I will be preaching at both Harvest Riverside and Orange County. The services will also be webcast LIVE at www.harvest.org.

Where World History Ends

Saturday, October 20th, 2012 Posted in sermons | 2 Comments »

What on earth is happening in the Middle East? It seems that all we hear about in the news from this region is another outburst of violence – or a threat of one.

In his address at the U.N. last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened once again to eliminate Israel. Also in a recent speech, he spoke of some Islamic “messiah,” as well as a new world order.

As we look at the attacks on our embassies around the world, and specifically the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, it is now clear that the war on terror has not been won.

When Osama bin Laden was killed, we hoped that might be the end of it. But after Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were murdered in Libya, there were people rioting in the streets and burning American flags. As they waited for their close-ups from the American media, they chanted together to the cameras, “Take a picture, Obama! We are all Osama!” That pretty much says it all. The message of Osama bin Laden and the terrorists appears to be alive and well.

And what about the so-called Arab Spring? What some thought might be a hopeful sign, perhaps a surge of democracy in the Middle East, has not turned out so well. So what is the explanation of all of this chaos and confusion? What in the world is happening?

The short answer is that Bible prophecy is being lived out in real time before our very eyes. The Bible has predicted the things that are happening in this part of the world. Scripture is very clear in pointing out that the end of the world will be centered in the Middle East. And it has all been foretold in the only book that accurately predicts the future: the Bible.

Thousands of years ago, Hebrew prophets predicted the Jewish people would be scattered across the earth and then later regathered. Jesus, in fact, gave a very specific prediction when he said the temple in Jerusalem that was being rebuilt by Herod at the time would not only be destroyed, but also would be dismantled, stone by stone (see Matthew 24:1).

Did that prediction reach fulfillment? Yes, it did. Because all historians agree that in A.D. 70, Titus and the Roman legions marched into Jerusalem, slaughtered thousands of Jews and dismantled the temple. Why did they dismantle it? Because there was gold in the temple, which had been burned, and they had to dismantle it to extract the melted gold. This fulfilled, to the letter, the prophecy of Christ. Also at this time, the Jews were scattered.

Fast-forward many years to the Holocaust, when Hitler sought to eradicate the Jewish people from the face of the earth. Thankfully, the United States, Great Britain, and their allies stopped the Nazi war machine. And what happened in the aftermath of the Holocaust was nothing short of amazing. The Jewish people began to return to their homeland. And on May 14, 1948, a modern miracle happened. The state of Israel was officially declared.

Here was a nation that had been dispersed for centuries, and then it was regathered. This has never happened again in history. And this was a super-sign that started the prophetic clock ticking. The people of Israel were back in their homeland again.

But there was still a problem. Israel did not have control of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem plays a key role in the end-times scenario. Although they had declared their statehood, Jordan was still controlling the old city of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and most of the historic sites. Then the Six Day War broke out in 1967, in which Israel was attacked. No one expected her to survive. Not only did Israel survive the attack, but she won the war and gained back a lot of the things she had lost, including the old city. And for the first time in more than 2,000 years, the city of Jerusalem was under Jewish control.

Yet to this present day, Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Arab leaders worldwide insisting that Jerusalem and the entire West Bank are rightfully Palestinian territory and ultimately must be given back as a condition of peace.

Of course, I am going to side with God on this issue. God gave Jerusalem to Israel. He said to Abraham in Genesis 15:18, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates. …” (NKJV). He gave that land to Israel, and the Israelis are not going to give up the city of Jerusalem.

The Bible predicts that the city of Jerusalem will be at the epicenter of it all, and the attention of the planet will be directed toward Israel and toward the city of Jerusalem.

Is this happening now? Yes, it is. All of this is happening just as the Bible predicted it would.

So let’s go over the chronology of events the Bible has predicted: Israel will be scattered. Has this happened? Yes. Israel will be regathered after her people are scattered. Has this happened? Again, yes. Israel will regain the city of Jerusalem. Has this happened? Yes. Israel will be isolated from the other nations of the world and basically will stand alone. Has that happened? Not quite, but it appears to be moving in that direction. Lastly, Israel will be attacked. Has that happened? Not yet, and not on the scale the Bible predicts. This is still in the future, but perhaps the near future.

Scripture specifically tells us that world history, as we know it, will culminate in this part of the world. Some people would assert that it is not important to study Bible prophecy, but I beg to differ. We must study Bible prophecy. The reason we should want to learn about the future is so we will be motivated to live rightly in the present.

Taken from my weekly column at Worldnetdaily.com

This Thursday at Harvest Orange County

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 Posted in sermons | 2 Comments »

Are some sins worse then others? Or are all sins the same? The Bible addresses this topic with an answer that might surprise you.

The fact is, some sins are indeed worse then others, but they may not be the ones you think. In fact, I will identify the worst and even unforgivable sin in my message at Harvest Orange County from my Greatest Stories Ever Told series this Thursday.

I will also be joined by special musical guests Leeland who will both lead us in worship and perform some of their songs. For more info, go to www.harvest.org.

This Weekend at Harvest Riverside and Orange County

Saturday, October 13th, 2012 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

Pssst . . .
Want to know a secret?
Here it is: God is in control and all that is happening in our world is not a surprise to Him at all.
In fact, He told us these things would happen in Scripture.

One day, things are going to be right in the universe and in our world; this the Bible promises.

However, I am sorry to say that it is going to get worse before it gets better. Hard times are coming for planet earth and the devil is going to have his heyday.
And he is also going to face his judgement day. He knows that well. In fact, that is why he is so busy right now causing so much trouble!

In the book of Revelation we read, “The devil has gone down to you. He is filled with fury, because he knows that his TIME IS SHORT!” (Revelation 12:12).

Let’s learn more about our future at Harvest Riverside and Orange County this weekend as we look at Revelation chapter 9 in my message “When All Hell Breaks Loose.”

We will also be joined in music by Phil Joel. For more info, go to www.harvest.org.

The Bible Is Ahead of the Latest News Headlines

Friday, October 12th, 2012 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

What happened at the Libyan Embassy in Benghazi is a big topic in the news today.
Our Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed by terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11. Why did something like that even happen?
Are we really winning this war on terror, or will it get worse? The Bible has the answers we are all looking for.
This is the topic for our TV program this weekend,where I give the message “Israel, Iran, and America in Bible Prophecy.”
You can check local listings to see where you can view it where you are,or simply watch it right now by clicking this link.

http://www.harvest.org/tv/?utm_source=harvest.org&utm_campaign=tv&utm_medium=banner

This Sunday at Harvest Riverside and Orange County

Saturday, October 6th, 2012 Posted in sermons | 4 Comments »

We have all heard the question.
Some of you may be asking it right now. . .
It usually goes somewhere along the lines of “How could a loving God judge people?”
“How can a good God send good people to hell?”
The problem is not with the answer,but with the question itself.
I am not evading however, because there is an answer to that question.
I believe because God is indeed good as well as loving, there MUST be a final judgment.
I want to explain that statement and elaborate more on this topic for you this Sunday at Harvest in my message “Apocalypse Now.”
It’s based on Revelation chapter 8, as we see God’s judgment coming to this planet and why.
You can join us for one our services or watch live at www.harvest.org.

Contentment Is Not the State of Your Accounts; It Is a State of Heart

Saturday, October 6th, 2012 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

I heard a story about a wealthy employer who overheard one of his employees remark, “You know what? If I had $1,000, I would be perfectly content.”
Knowing that wealth had never brought him contentment, he walked over to that employee and said, “You know, I have always wanted to meet someone who is perfectly content. So I am going to grant your desire.” He pulled out his checkbook, wrote a check for $1,000 and gave it to her.
As he walked away, he overheard her say rather bitterly, “Why didn’t I ask for $2,000?”
That is the way it works. It’s called human nature.
Getting more stuff does not bring happiness or contentment. One psychologist who has conducted research on what brings contentment said, “If people strive for a certain level of affluence, thinking it will make them happy, they find that in reaching it, they quickly become habituated to it and are at a point when they are hankering for the next level of income, property, or good health.”
The apostle Paul was someone who found satisfaction, who found inner contentment. And in the book of Philippians, he reveals the secret of happiness and contentment.
Circumstantially, Paul had nothing to be happy about. He wasn’t writing from the luxury of some pleasant surroundings. He probably was writing his epistle to the believers in Philippi as he was chained to a Roman guard. He was under house arrest. He had lost his ability to move about.
Yet Paul was an active kind of guy. He was an outdoorsman. He worked with his hands and was someone who liked to get things done. For him to be cooped up in one place would have been very, very difficult. Plus, his future was uncertain. He had appealed to Caesar as a Roman citizen, and he was waiting for the time when he actually would be able to see the emperor. He didn’t know what would happen in his future.
To make matters worse, he was a very controversial figure. Even in the church, some believers were against him. Despite all of these difficult circumstances, however, Paul wrote these words: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:8 NKJV). Paul wasn’t speaking on the subject of contentment from some ivory tower or mere theory. He was speaking from the school of life, from the school of hard knocks. Paul had experienced pain and pleasure, health and sickness, weakness and strength, and highs and lows. He was a hero to some and a villain to others. Yet he was saying, “I have found that you can be content.”
I read about a man who was very proud of his beautifully groomed lawn. It was absolute perfection. But one year a heavy crop of dandelions came in, and he couldn’t figure out how to get rid of them. He tried everything he knew and still they kept growing and destroying his pristine lawn. So finally he wrote to the school of agriculture at a local university, telling them about all the things he had tried and asking if they had any suggestions. In response, he received a very short reply, which read, “We suggest that you learn how to love them.”
Sometimes we find ourselves asking, “How can I get this problem to go away?,” “How can I get this irritating person out of my life?,” “How can I change my circumstances?”
And sometimes God will get us out of that problem. Sometimes he will take the problem away. But sometimes God will say, “You just have to learn how to love them.”
So what was the secret to Paul’s joy? What was the secret of his contentment? Paul found the secret of contentment is not in what you have; it is in whom you know. And the “whom” to which I am referring is Jesus. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you’” (NLT).
It is because God is with us always that we can say, “I have found contentment.” No matter what happens, no one can take that from you. No one can take God’s presence from you. And knowing that, you can face whatever comes your way in life. Maybe it will be the greatest challenge ever that will be difficult and hard. And maybe it will be untold blessings that would turn many a head. But you will be able to keep your balance in all of that, because you recognize that God is the provider.
Happiness and contentment do not come from stuff; they come from a relationship with God.
As David said, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1 NKJV). When the Lord is your shepherd, you won’t be in want. And if you are in want, one might ask whether the Lord really is your shepherd.
Contentment is not the state of your accounts; it is a state of heart. Contentment is found in making the most of the least. That is what the apostle Paul was saying.
So despite what adverse circumstances you may be facing, you can have joy and contentment in the midst of a troubled world.