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God’s Gym

October 19th, 2015 Posted in sermons | 3 Comments »

Some people like to go to the gym and work out. Not me. I could never work out again and be deliriously happy about it.

But I do hit the gym a couple of times a week to stay as strong as I can and (at my age) mobile!

A lot of folks find themselves getting tired and lethargic and they say, “I’m just getting old!” Yes, that’s true, but it may be you are out of shape too! You can’t control the aging, but you can take practical steps to stay strong and even get stronger physically.

The same can be true spiritually as well. You may think, “I just don’t have any spiritual energy!” Maybe you need to get busy and do something with your faith. The gifts God gives are not to be displayed in a trophy case; they are to be used!

You break down muscle to build it up. If muscle is not used, it will atrophy.

Trials are like God’s gym, where we are broken down to be built up. Trials take our faith from the realm of theory to reality—so we can start living out our faith in the real world.

It’s been said, “Character is not made in crisis; it is revealed.” Trials make us stronger, not weaker.

Remember that as you go through times of difficulty.

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

The “Why” Question

October 17th, 2015 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

We all have those “why” questions in life. One we have wondered about most likely is, “Why did Jesus have to suffer and die? Was there not another way God could have accomplished His divine purposes and removed our sins?”

Short answer: no.

The death of Jesus was God’s plan from the very beginning.
Join us tomorrow at Harvest Riverside and Orange County to find out more in my message, “Why did Jesus have to die” from my God Came Near series.

You can join us in person for one of our 3 morning services at 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM, and 12:00 PM Pacific. Or you can watch the live HD webcast at

We will be also be joined by modern-day psalmist Marty Goetz for a communion service.

Woodlawn, the Movie, Opens This Weekend.

October 15th, 2015 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

The amazing film Woodlawn opens this Friday at a theater near you. This is certainly one of the best Christian films I have ever seen. It fires on every cylinder. An amazing true story, well acted, scored, and directed. Best of all, this film has gospel in it. Trust me, you will love it. I would even encourage you to take a nonbeliever with you to see it and then talk about it after.

What Shape Is Your Conscience In?

October 12th, 2015 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

You have most likely heard of author Arthur Conan Doyle. He wrote the Sherlock Holmes books, among other things. One day Doyle, as a joke, jotted off a note to twelve of his friends. On this note he simply wrote the words, “Flee at once. All is discovered.” Within 24 hours, all twelve of his friends had left the country!
That’s what you call having a guilty conscience!

But what exactly is the conscience?

One person said, “Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.” Another said, “Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels so good.” It’s also been said, “Conscience doesn’t always keep you from doing wrong, but it does keep you from enjoying it.”

A conscience is like that fire alarm that goes off when there is danger (or you need a new battery).

One writer described it this way:

“The conscience is a built-in feature
That haunts the sinner and helps the preacher.
Some sins it makes us turn and run from,
But most it simply takes the fun from.”

We would do well to heed the words of the great theologian Jiminy Cricket to Pinocchio: “Take the straight and narrow path and if you start to slide, give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! And always let your conscience be your guide.”

I have a question for you: What kind of shape is your conscience in? Is it tender and responsive, or is it dull and unresponsive? It is important to be attuned to our conscience. It is important to take care of it. Why? Because the Bible speaks of dulling one’s conscience.

There is a Chinese proverb that says, “A clear conscience never fears midnight knocking.” Without question, some people’s consciences seem to work better than others. The Bible warns us not to stifle the voice of the conscience. In fact, Scripture even tells us it is possible to “sear the conscience with a hot iron.” Have you ever seared yourself with a hot iron?I have. (Word of advice-never iron your clothes when you are still wearing them!)

The idea is having a conscience that is calloused and hard.

A man consulted a psychiatrist. He complained, “I’ve been misbehaving, Doc, and my conscience is troubling me.” The doctor asked, “And you want something that will strengthen your willpower?” The man replied, “Well, no. I was thinking of something that would weaken my conscience.” We should all want a conscience that is strong, not weak.

The death of a conscience—how does it happen? It starts with small things and almost inevitably leads to larger ones. You do something you know is wrong. You “disable” the conscience alarm, or at least you learn how to ignore it. It still goes off, but seems to get fainter, harder to hear. That’s because your heart has grown harder.

1 Timothy 1:19 says, “Cling to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked” (NLT).

Has God been speaking to you lately through your conscience, but you have “deliberately violated your conscience” and as a result “your faith has been shipwrecked”?

What are you to do?

You come to Jesus. “Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22 NLT). Jesus Christ can forgive sin and re-sensitize your conscience.

He died on Calvary’s cross and shed His blood for your sin. Call your sin what it is, no matter how long ago you committed it. It’s not merely a “mistake” but a sin! “If we confess our sins [agree with God about them], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NKJV). That is the only way to get rid of your guilt: you must go to the cross!

You have heard about these horrible floodwaters in South Carolina. One grandmother, Clara Gantt, on her way to church in the pouring rain, was swept up in the floodwater. She called 911 and there was no answer. She remembered the Bible passage, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you!” (Isaiah 43:2 NKJV). Her grandson Travis found his grandmother’s car floating in the churchyard. They got a rope to her and they wrapped it around a giant red cross. They clung to that cross until help came.

That’s what we need to do: go to and cling to the cross.


October 12th, 2015 Posted in video | No Comments »

Woodlawn is one of the best Christian films I have ever seen. It’s amazing. We previewed it at Harvest and everybody loved it.

It’s a football story and also a story about overcoming racial divides. But really it’s a story about the power of the gospel.

The film goes into nationwide release this Friday, October 16. Let’s get out there and support this film and make it #1 in the box office. And make sure to take your friends who do not yet know the Lord.

Thoughts on the Umpqua Community College Shooting

October 3rd, 2015 Posted in sermons | 4 Comments »

Imagine being at the business end of a semi-automatic weapon and being asked the question, “Are you a Christian?” You know that if you tell the truth, this will most likely not end well for you. But what other alternative is there? Deny what and who you know is true?

That is exactly what happened for thirteen people as they faced a dark and twisted young man who posed this question to them on the campus of Umpqua Community College just yesterday.

The press initially reported that the gunman asked people “about their religion.” Hardly. After ordering everyone to hit the floor, the gunman asked a very specific question: “Are you a Christian?”

According to the New York Post, “‘[he started] asking people one by one what their religion was. “Are you a Christian?” he would ask them, and if you’re a Christian, stand up. And they would stand up and he said, “Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.” And then he shot and killed them,’ Stacy Boylen, whose daughter was wounded at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, told CNN.”

The gunman, Chris Harper-Mercer, had a hatred for faith in general and apparently Christians in particular, as in his online profile he indicated he “doesn’t like organized religion” on an Internet dating site.

Mercer, who was killed in a firefight Thursday with police at Umpqua Community College, left a note in which he wrote that he would be “welcomed in hell and embraced by the devil.” I can assure you that he will get far worse than he wished for in the afterlife. There will be no welcome and no embrace. Just darkness and separation from God.

This is the most recent in a string of attacks against Christians ranging back to Charleston, South Carolina, where a gunman burst into a prayer meeting and killed nine people, including the senior pastor.

But this question lingers: “Are you a Christian?” Where have we heard this before?

Seventeen-year-old Rachel Scott, a student at Columbine High School in Colorado, was targeted by two gunmen who knew Rachel was a Christian as she had personally shared her faith with them days before. According to reports, they shot Rachel first in the leg, then in the back. Realizing she was still alive, one of the gunmen walked over to her and lifted her up by her hair and asked if she still believed in God. Her response was unwavering: “You know I do,” upon which he delivered the final shots that took her life.

What we are seeing is persecution against Christians in the United States of America. We read almost daily stories of our brothers and sisters being martyred for their faith in Christ in the Middle East by groups like ISIS, but now it has come to our shores.

When an event like this recent shooting takes place the questions is always asked, “Why?” Mental health and gun control solutions are usually brought up, but the one thing you rarely hear said is, “It happened because people are evil.”

Yes, just as surely as there is a God in Heaven, there is a devil, who I believe is behind this persecution against followers of Jesus.
So, what should we do as Christians in the light of attacks like this? Should we retreat and try to blend in? Should we no longer speak up for what we know is true? No, we should be even bolder and stand our ground and speak up for our faith.

Events like this can be frightening, I know. But remember this: each of these courageous believers were welcomed into Heaven by the Lord.

Jesus said, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 NIV). If you or I were placed into such a situation, I believe God would give us the strength to stand strong for our faith.

There will be times when a conversation may turn to spiritual issues,and we will remain silent about our faith out of fear of possibly being embarrassed if the others do not agree with us.

We need to understand to not confess Christ can be a form of denying Him.

Jesus said, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 10:32 NKJV).

Let’s be inspired by the courage of those that stood up for their faith yesterday on their college campus.
Considering that these brave souls would not deny their faith, even at threat of death, how much more should we be bold in our faith and speak up for Jesus?

You can also read this article on

Why I Do What I Do

October 1st, 2015 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

I recently received this letter from a correctional officer in the state of Washington.
He tells the story of how he drifted from his faith and how he came back to Christ.
He also mentions the Harvest App.

You can download this for your iPhone, Android phone, or tablet device and hear and watch our radio and TV program on demand.
To download the Harvest App, go here:

Hi Pastor Greg, I am writing you because you said that you wanted to hear from us on your radio broadcast, A New Beginning radio. I am a correctional officer for the State of Washington and I want to thank you for all that you do! I gave myself to the Lord at a young age and was devoted to the Lord for some time. However my parents got divorced, my dad moved away, I started to hang with the wrong crowd, etc… etc… I’m sure you have heard this story too many times to count. I had been without God for a long time and had become a very angry and bitter person. The smallest things would set my temper off. And the environment that I work in didn’t help matters. I knew that the person that I had become wasn’t me! I knew that I was mean and I wanted to be a good person. I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong and why I couldn’t change. And the Lord had been calling me back; my heart was so hardened that I didn’t realize it. I can see the signs now but back then I couldn’t see it.

Anyway we live so far from work that we have a carpool van that a bunch of guys carpool to work together for the over-an-hour drive that we do every day to and from work, and there happened to be a few Christians that I work with that I ride with and every now and again a topic would come up and I would always engage in the conversation but I was oblivious that Jesus was calling me to come back to Him. So a few months back during our hour van ride to work we started listening to 106.5 and the new Christian music got me and a few of the other guys interested and eventually we started listening to the messages on our way home from work. We work 2pm -10pm So its the perfect time to catch your daily messages in the evening. I have since subscribed to And from listening to your message it has brought several of us to (or back to) Christ. We listen every night. I have even downloaded the Harvest app on my phone and we listen to your extended messages that I am able to download and l listen to from my phone.

One of the guys invited me to his church and now several of us even belong to the same church and go every Sunday! Everyone around me notices the change in me and I gotta tell you it feels so AMAZING to be walking with the LORD JESUS again!!!! Praise the Lord!!!! Thank you soooo much for what you do Greg. We love your messages and love listening to you! You are a great person and we also love your sense of humor. Don’t stop being you!!!!! GOD BLESS YOU AND ALL THAT YOU DO!!! Thank you again!
Some day I hope to be able to meet you and thank you in person!!!


Pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini to Be Released from Prison in Iran Today.

September 26th, 2015 Posted in sermons | 8 Comments »

Today, I am calling on every Christian reading these words to pray for our faithful brother in Christ, Saeed Abedini.We are joining thousands of Christians around the world to remember to pray for him today and to also remember the persecuted church. There are 810 prayer vigils in 38 countries praying for the release of Saeed Abedini from the Iranian prison he is presently being held in.

Who is Saeed Abedini?

My friend, Joel Rosenberg recently wrote this article describing this amazing man:

“Saeed was born in Iran in 1980 and raised as a Shia Muslim. In his teens, he was recruited by a Radical Muslim group to become a suicide bomber and thus a martyr for the cause of jihad. But in 2000, God had mercy on Saeed and opened his eyes to the truth of the Gospel. At the age of 20, he renounced Islam and become follower and disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As he grew in his faith, Saeed became active in sharing the Gospel with other Iranians, leading them to Christ, discipling them, and setting up and supporting a network of underground churches throughout Iran. Fox News has reported that “his home church movement had about 100 churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members.”

In time, Saeed had the opportunity to travel to the United States. There, he met and married Nagmeh, became a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, and the couple had two children, Rebekka and Jacob. As a family, they were committed to reaching the Iranian people with the love of Christ. Several times, Saeed traveled to Iran to encourage the underground church and care for the poor and needy. But in 2012, he was arrested by the Iranian government, beaten, and sentenced to death under Sharia law for converting to Christianity — thus becoming an apostate, in the eyes of Islam — and leading others to faith in Christ.

“It [the underground church movement] was just growing so fast,” Naghmeh told Fox News. “They [Iran’s government] see the underground churches as a threat and they see Christianity as a tool from the West to undermine them. They think if the country becomes more Christian, they are no longer under Islamic authority. That’s why it’s a threat.”

Today marks the third year since Pastor Saeed was arrested in Iran and sentenced to death. So we are praying for his immediate release.

At Harvest, we are holding two prayer vigils: one in Riverside, the other in Newport Beach.

We will meet at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside at 10:00 AM to pray.
We will also meet in Newport Beach at the Newport Beach Civic Center at 10:00 AM.
For more info, go to

If You Follow This Advice, You Will Never Be Called a Backslider

September 23rd, 2015 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

If you want to be a growing Christian, you must read, study, and love God’s Word:
Scripture is filled with admonitions to ready,study and obey God’s Word.

• “Oh how I love your instructions, I think about them all day long!” (Psalm 119:97 NLT).
• “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8 NKJV).
• “See how I love your commandments, LORD. Give back my life because of your unfailing love. All your words are true; all your just laws will stand forever (Psalm 119:159–160 NLT).

You should read the Bible as if your life depended on it—because it does!

Jesus, in the conclusion to His Sermon on the Mount, said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24–27 NIV).

One of the things that will happen to the young believer is doubt. This is the way Satan attacked Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: “Did God really say what you thought He said?” That’s why we must study and know the Word of God.

Jesus modeled this for us during His temptation in the wilderness. Each time Satan came at Him, Jesus responded with Gods’ Word: “It is written . . .”

• When Satan tempted Him to turn the rocks into bread, Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’”
• When Satan told Him to jump off the pinnacle of the temple, Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
• When Satan offered Him all of the kingdoms of the world, Jesus replied, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’”

This is why Ephesians 6 calls God’s Word the sword of the Spirit. It is our weapon against the enemy.

Many years ago, a young man named Billy Sunday received Jesus Christ as his Savior. An older believer gave him some advice that he never forgot. He said, “William, there are three simple rules I wish you’d practice. If you do, no one will ever write ‘backslider’ after your name: Take 15 minutes each day to let God talk to you. Allow 15 minutes to talk to Him. And then spend 15 minutes telling others about the Savior.”

Billy Sunday faithfully followed that advice and ultimately became a great evangelist.

Are You Going Through a Hard Time?

September 21st, 2015 Posted in sermons | 21 Comments »

In Luke 22, Jesus told Peter, “Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat” (NKJV). Can you imagine if Jesus said that to you? What a frightening thought. But take note of this important detail: Satan had to ask God first! He can do nothing in the life of the child of God without our Father’s permission.

God has built a wall of protection around you! Satan correctly noted that God “put a hedge” around the righteous Job. And even when Satan attacked Job, he was under divine restraint. God had told Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but do not touch his life!”

God knows our breaking point! We may think we do, but we really don’t. We can handle far more than we often think. When God allows us to go through fiery trials, He has a purpose.

Warren Wiersbe said,

“When God puts His own people into the furnace, He keeps his eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. He knows how long and how much. If we rebel, He may have to reset the clock; but if we submit, He will not permit us to suffer one minute too long. The important thing is that we learn the lesson He wants to teach us and that we bring glory to Him alone.”

Satan is always probing, looking for the “weak link” in the chain.

Jesus is saying to Peter, “Simon, I know you better than you know yourself. I know your weaknesses, your vulnerability. Yet I have prayed for you!” I have people tell me all the time that they are praying for me. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. It is the greatest gift. But I am even more thankful that Jesus is praying for me—and not me only, but you as well.

Think about it! Jesus is interceding for us!

Robert Murray M’Cheyne said,

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies.
Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.”

In Romans 8:34–35, we read, “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (NIV).

Were it not for the prayers of Jesus, I wouldn’t have a chance. Nor would you.