Sharing His Message

In Acts 26, we find Paul sharing the gospel with King Herod Agrippa and others. We also find some principles that we all can use when sharing our faith:

First, find common ground and build a bridge to your listener. Paul began his defense by saying, “I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, for I know you are an expert on Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently!” This was not flattery on Paul’s part. He was telling the truth. Agrippa was steeped in the ways of the Jews. He knew all about Jewish culture and customs. He could have started by saying, “You are a wicked man, Agrippa. And everyone knows it.” But he didn’t do that. He built a bridge. He was respectful.

Second, use your personal testimony. Paul told Agrippa how he became a follower of Christ. He told his own personal story. There is power in your story, whether it is dramatic or not. Don’t glorify or exaggerate your past. Accuracy is important and so is truthfulness. Don’t boast about what you gave up for God, but what God gave up for you.

Lastly, make Christ the focus. It is not about you. It is about Him. You only tell your story to point to His story. Your testimony is a bridge, not the destination. The destination is Jesus and His story.

When we share, we need to pray that God will open people’s eyes spiritually. There is nothing we can say that will make a person believe. Conversion is a mystery and it is a work of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t understand why God would use someone as foolish as me or you to articulate His message. But the Holy Spirit can make that message resonate with the listener, if we are simply bold enough to share it.

If you have the opportunity to come to SoCal Harvest or share the gospel with someone, we would love for you to share your experience in the comments below. May God bless you!

Rarely Used Spiritual Weapons

“To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” —James 4:17

God has given us two secret weapons to use in our world today. What are they? First I will tell you what they are not: whining and complaining. It doesn’t do any good. Neither does boycotting and protesting.

The two secret weapons that God has given to the church are praying and preaching. We pray for our nation. We pray for people we will share the gospel with. And then we share the gospel with them.

These are spiritual weapons that are rarely used by the church today. A lot of times it seems as though we do everything except pray and preach. But these are things that we need to do a lot more of. In fact, I feel that to not be praying for our country and preaching the gospel actually could be a sin.

There are sins of commission, which are breaking God’s law. But then there are sins of omission, which are not doing what God wants us to do. We are told in the Scriptures, “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). It would be like walking by a burning building and knowing there are people inside but doing nothing to help them. If I don’t go in and try to save them myself, at the very least I could call the fire department.But if I were just to walk by as though nothing were happening and left them inside to die, that would be criminal.

When we see a culture today that doesn’t know God and can know God, when they need to be prayed for and preached to, doing nothing also could be criminal in a sense. We are living in a hostile culture right now. So let’s pray and preach.

Can We Have Revival in our Time?

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
—2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV

Watch Pastor Greg’s two messages on spiritual revival.

Please leave your comment on what these messages spoke to you!

A Father’s Legacy

The greatest legacy we pass on as fathers is not our inheritance. It is not even our good name. It is the spiritual heritage that we give to our children, desiring them to walk in the way of the Lord.

When David was on his deathbed, he said to his son,

“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9 nkjv).

God has placed parents as the authorities in the life of the child. And in many ways, we as fathers represent God to our children.

A story I’ve often told about a little boy illustrates this well. The little boy was frightened one night by a very loud thunderstorm. He called to his father in the next room and said, “Daddy, I am scared.”

His father called back from the next room, “Son, don’t be scared. God is with you.”

The boy paused for a moment and then said, “Yeah, but I want someone with skin on right now.”

Fathers, in many ways, are like God with skin on to their children. I don’t mean that literally, but I do mean that fathers are the representatives of God to that child.

Consider this: many of the attitudes a child will develop about God will be based on their relationship with their fathers. While I am not trying to lay a guilt trip on fathers, I do want to say that we fathers need to do everything we can to be a godly influence on our children. When our children see their mom or dad contradicting what they know is true, great damage can be done.

Sadly, many children do not honor their parents simply because they are not very honorable. Many adults have never grown up themselves, so they abandon their responsibilities to their families to chase after their own interests.

That is why Andrew Murray said, “The secret of home rule is self-rule: first being ourselves what we want our children to be.”

Our children must see the gospel lived as well as preached. We are not only to be witnesses to the world. We also need to be witnesses in our homes. Children pay attention to what really matters to us and how our Christianity affects us in day-to-day living.

You are an example. The question is, will you be a good one or a bad one?

We find an interesting insight in an often-quoted passage regarding parenting—one that is usually quoted when children go astray. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (nkjv).

This phrase, “in the way,” could also be translated, “in his bent.” The Amplified Bible translates it this way: “Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

We see in this a recognition that every child is different. I hope, as parents, that we realize this about our children. Every child has a unique and distinct personality. Just as no two snowflakes are exactly like, it is the same with children.

This is why we need to observe our children. We need to watch our children. Then we need to adapt our training accordingly.

This doesn’t mean we turn away from the principles of Scripture, but that we adapt them to each child. For example, stern words get some children in line, while others need a different approach.

My point is that we need to recognize the unique characteristics in the lives of the little ones whom God has entrusted to our care. We want to do our best to point them in the right direction and train them in the way of the Lord.

How often we think, “I’m too busy for the kids!” Yet time goes by so fast. Treasure each moment with your children, and don’t neglect them. Express your love to them.

To know that our children walk with the Lord—that is our great hope. But we need to remember that they don’t belong to us; they belong to God. Our responsibility is to point them to Him.

You Are a Worshipper

Would you consider yourself a worshipper?

Believers in God might be quick to say yes, while others who are not believers—or perhaps are skeptics—would say they’re not.

I would suggest to you that everyone is a worshipper.

Now, understand me. I did not say that everyone worships God. I simply stated that everyone worships.

Some worship at the altar of the “First Church of the Perfect Physique.” To them, it’s all about how they look. Others worship at the “Altar of the Mall.” To them, it’s all about what they wear. Others worship celebrities or sports stars or political heroes. But everyone worships someone or something.

Now consider this: God is looking for people to worship Him! He is seeking seekers!

Years ago, Jesus had an intense conversation on a hot afternoon with a woman who had wasted years of her life chasing men who let her down. Jesus knew what she really was seeking deep down inside was a relationship with God. She was spiritually thirsty and He made this statement to her:

But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23–24 nlt)

But how do we do this? How do we worship God in “spirit and in truth”?

Is there some sort of formula or ritual for doing so? Perhaps there’s a special place or time that is best suited to get in contact with God. Don’t we need specially trained people to help us call upon the Lord?

Jesus was explaining that true worship is not about necessarily meeting at a particular place or time, but rather a matter of the heart. In other words, spiritual worship is not about where or when; it’s about how.

When Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the spirit and in truth,” He indicated two fundamental elements of true worship:

  1. God must be worshipped in spirit.
  2. God must be worshipped in truth.

Let’s start with the latter—God must be worshipped in truth. The God we worship must be the true God—not a god of our own making. So our worship of God must be based on reality or truth. And what is that truth?

First, God can only be approached and known though Jesus Christ.

I know that some people cringe at a statement like this. But it is the truth as presented in the Bible.

You see, Jesus is God made flesh. The more we know about Jesus and His life, the more clearly we see the reality of God. And it is only through his sacrifice and death on the cross that we have access to the Father. We don’t attempt to approach God on the basis of our own personal righteousness or merits. We put our trust in Jesus as the One who makes us right with God.

Second, God is worthy of our worship, and we should worship Him whether or not we feel like it.

Do you think some of Jesus’ followers were “in the mood” to worship God when they were arrested, beaten, and thrown in the dungeon for their faith? Would you have been? We read the story of the apostle Paul and his friend Silas, who were whipped and put in stocks in a dungeon. Yet at midnight, they sang praises to God.

Look, it’s one thing to come to church and worship when we feel like it, when things are going reasonably well. The bills are paid. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. Everything is good. So we say, “Praise God!”

Then the next Sunday, the sun isn’t shining. The birds aren’t singing. There are problems. So we think, “I don’t feel like going to church.” But that’s when we need to worship more than ever. That’s when we need to say, “Lord, I’m helpless. Lord, I need your wisdom. I need your guidance. I need your power. I need your comfort. Lord, I am turning to you.” We worship regardless of our circumstances, because God is always worthy of our praise. We should worship God not because we are in the mood, but because God has asked us to and has everything in control. That is the sacrifice of praise.

Third, we can’t worship God when we knowingly have sin in our lives.

That doesn’t mean we have to be sinless before we can worship God—that’s impossible. Rather, when we knowingly and willfully sin against God, we are deceiving ourselves—and our prayers and worship will not be received.

For example, if I know I’ve lied to someone and have no plans to come clean anytime soon, I can’t expect my worship to be meaningful before God. Or if I am holding a grudge against someone and have no intention of trying to work things out with him or her, then I shouldn’t expect God to be honored by my worship. Or if I am living in sexual sin, I shouldn’t expect God to want to hear my songs of praise or prayers and petitions. The psalmist tells us, “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18 nlt).

God wants our lives and our worship to be combined together in an honorable way. God wants us to worship in spirit and in truth. And God wants our hearts more than anything else.

So accept it—you are a worshipper! Just make sure you are worshipping the right God in the right way.

Why Going to Church Is Important

Some people claim to be Christians but don’t attend church. They say, “Well, I haven’t found a church I like yet, and I work and Sunday is my only day off!” But if you really love God, you will love His people and long to be with them.

The Bible indeed commands us to go to church, and—even more—to be a functioning part of it. Hebrews 10:24–25 says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (NKJV).

I like the way the New Living Translation puts it: “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.” The Bible does not say: Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together unless Sunday is your only day off, or unless you want to run in a triathlon, or unless it’s a great beach day, in which case you are excused, because you just don’t need fellowship as much as other Christians do.

Yes, if you love God, you will love His people and long to be with them. If you don’t really love God, you won’t love His people. Some will say “I’m so over the church; people are critical and judgmental. It’s so full of hypocrites!” My response to that is: there is always room for one more! Understand, I am not justifying hypocrisy of any kind, but honestly, we have all been hypocritical at times. But that is not a reason to not attend church. The church has its flaws because people are in it. However, Jesus both started and loves the church. He died for it.

Being in fellowship is a proof that you are indeed a child of God. It says in 1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (NIV). Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (NKJVM). Not going to church is a proof that something is wrong with you spiritually. We read in 1 John 2:19, “These people left our churches because they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left us, it proved that they do not belong with us” (NLT).

Studies show that if you don’t go to church for a month, the odds are almost 2 to 1 that you won’t go for more than a year. Being a vital and active part of the church is something we pass on to our kids. A study once disclosed that: If both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72% of their children remain faithful in attendance; if only Dad attends regularly, 55% remain faithful; if only Mom attends regularly, 15% remain faithful; and if neither attend regularly, only 6% remain faithful.

What legacy will you leave your kids? Are you committed to demonstrating to them that going to church is important?

Perspective

I think America is going in the wrong direction.

I don’t believe the answer to our problem is a political one; I believe it is a spiritual one. America needs to turn to God.

We have two secret weapons in the church that we need to start using like never before; they are prayer and preaching. 

First, we need to pray for America. Pray that God would send a great spiritual awakening and that people across our land would return to Him. 

Secondly, we need to preach, and specifically we need to preach the gospel. It all comes down to this: each and every one of us needs to tell someone about Jesus. 

Would you use your secret weapons? Would you make it a daily priority to pray for America? Would you look for every opportunity to preach the gospel? 

Pastor Greg Laurie

Harvest America Testimonies

Here are a few samples of the hundreds of testimonies our ministry received from the Harvest America event at AT&T Stadium. If you have a story to share, please add it to the comments.

We hope each of you will rejoice with us over the amazing work God did, is doing, and will do as a result of Harvest America!

Harvest America Webcast
My three children listened to the entire stream of Harvest America. At the end when Pastor Greg made the invitation to those watching, my eldest son, Mark, stood up. Then my other children, Aaron and Alaina, also stood and said they wanted to accept Christ. They have always gone to church, but never publicly accepted the Lord. Thank you, Pastor Greg. As a parent, this is the most wonderful day of my life and theirs. —Monica

AT&T Stadium

After Pastor Greg finished his message, a large number of people started to leave, exiting the east doors. I was feeling sad that so many people were leaving. Very soon thereafter, I noticed a young couple leaving with three young children and a baby strapped to the mother’s abdomen by a sling. Then suddenly they moved to the side, just as Pastor Greg was starting the prayer of salvation. The mother and the three children dropped to their knees in a semi-circle around the father. He wrapped his arms around the whole family and they prayed the prayer of salvation together with Pastor Greg. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was so beautiful! I had tears in my eyes as they rose and walked outside and left. God showed me that we may try to quantitate the success of an event by numbers, but we don’t really know what is going on in the Spirit for eternal things. The Holy Spirit blessed me with a beautiful picture in my memory that will last a lifetime. —ML

I have always believed in God, but have always been distant in showing it. My wife and kids were always more interactive and more involved with our Lord. For years I had gone to church because of my wife. I have tried to be part of the church for my wife and tried to teach my children about God because of my wife. For some reason this past Sunday (March 6, 2016) I decided to attend Harvest America with my wife and kids (usually I would opt out and stay home), but this day was different and I decided to drive down to AT&T Stadium. To my surprise I was shocked to see the amount of people there and as the night progressed with the music, I started to get more in touch with the music and atmosphere at this point. Pastor Greg made his way to the podium. This was a turning point—not sure if it was 20 years building up, my family, Pastor Greg’s powerful message, but as he was completing his sermon and offered for me to come down and accept Jesus as my Savior, I made a straight line to the field and never felt so sure about my decision. That night started something that I should have started more than 30 years ago. I just wanted to say thanks to my family and Pastor Greg for that special night and the impact for the rest of my life. I am proud to say I was part of the 6,000 plus to make that decision. —Mike

Thank you for your assiduous efforts over the past 2+ years in planning, preparing, and mobilizing the church for Harvest America. I don’t need to tell you what a success the event was. In our church I pray that we will see the seeds of revival grow. I long for our people to pursue their friends, neighbors, and family for the gospel of Christ. I pray that participating in Harvest America will help our membership continue to reach out to the lost.
 

No doubt you have heard countless stories of lives changed. One that is most impactful to me involves a woman in our church who served as an usher the night of the event. This woman moved here recently from California. It seems that she is running from a number of difficulties in her past. “Coincidentally,” she moved in next door to a couple who is a member of our church. This couple immediately introduced themselves and invited her to church. It became clear very early on that she was not a follower of Jesus. This couple continued to invite her to church every Sunday and spend time with her periodically during the week. This woman continued to respond positively, attending church every Sunday, enjoying the company of this couple and newfound friends in our church.
 

When Harvest America promotion began she volunteered to serve as an usher. The couple also served in this capacity and brought this woman with them to serve at the event. This woman listened to the presentation of the gospel and fulfilled her ushering duties. On the drive home she lamented that she was not able to come down and “pray that prayer.” There in the car, on the drive home, this couple had the privilege of leading this woman to Christ!
 

Thank you for your efforts. I pray that there will be significant ripples of gospel activity in the weeks and months ahead stemming from Harvest America. We are eager to follow up with people in our area and pray God will use us to help new and recommitted believers grow in the Lord.
 

Thank you for coming to our area, encouraging the body of Christ, and preaching the gospel to a world who needs to know Him. —DY

Church Host in Rochester

I am the pastor of Revolution Church in Rochester, New Hampshire. When I was a teenager I would listen to Pastor Greg on the radio. That really helped me connect with the gospel and who Jesus is. Pastor Greg’s practical style helped shape my preaching. Now 25 years later I have my own children. Our church hosted the Harvest America live stream from AT&T Stadium on March 6. I sat in the front row and my daughter left her friends and came and sat with me in the front. When Pastor Greg was finished she looked at me with moist eyes and said, “He is a really good teacher; he explains things so good. I really get it now; I understand it. She had a made a decision for Jesus as many kids do who grow up in church, but when Greg shared the gospel, she heard it and understood it for herself, and Jesus became real to her. It is awesome for me because it was Pastor Greg that helped me connect with Jesus and has had an impact on my life and ministry, and now his ministry has reached the second generation of my family. Thank you for doing these events. Thank you for using your gift. Thanks for still being a delivery boy who can clearly deliver the Good News! —CM

How Not to Become a Christian

What does it mean to be a Christian? How do you become one? I’m glad you asked. First, let’s look at three ways you cannot become a child of God. That’s right. How not to become a Christian.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12–13)

You cannot be a Christian simply by being born into a Christian family. I’m amazed at how some people, when asked how they know they are Christians, will answer, “Because I think my grandfather was,” or, “Because my mother is a Christian.” It’s as though they believe their family somehow has Christian “genes.” Having Christian parents is a great privilege. It’s a wonderful thing to be raised with biblical values and to develop a Christian worldview. But you still must personally believe in Jesus. You cannot live off the faith of the family.

You cannot make yourself a Christian by your own will. Not only does faith have nothing to do with your family background, it has nothing to do with desire. You can’t just say, “From this moment on, I am a Christian!” Becoming a Christian involves putting your trust in God. God is the one who saves you, not yourself. It would be like a drowning person trying to save himself or herself. Becoming a Christian involves turning away from sin and trusting Jesus and Jesus alone for your salvation. It involves saying “yes” to God’s invitation to change your heart.

You cannot become a Christian by compulsion. No one in the world can make you a Christian. No minister or priest can make you a Christian by mere baptism or a sacrament. You cannot be reborn through a ceremony, or by reading a creed, or by standing up or sitting down, or by going forward, or by kneeling at a bench. None of these things, in and of themselves, will make you a Christian.

Now that we’ve covered how not to become a Christian, let’s look at how to become one. We find the answer in the verse quoted above: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

There has to be a point when you are awakened to your spiritual need and say, “God, I know I’m a sinner. I know I don’t measure up. Your light has crept into the crevices of my life, and You have exposed my spiritual nakedness. You have shown me my vulnerability and my need. At the same time, I know I can’t become a Christian in my own strength. So I am coming to You on Your terms. I am turning from my sin. I believe that Your Son, Jesus, the Word who created all things, became a man and walked among us. I believe that He died on a cross for my sin. I put my trust in You. I choose to follow You.”

Becoming a Christian is not unlike having a gift offered to you. God is offering you a gift, but you need to accept it and open it to understand what it is.

In the same way, God has given each of us a gift, but it’s not any good until we open it. The gift is just sitting there.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I’ll get to it later. I know it’s there. It gives me a good feeling to know it is there. I just love the fact that it is there.” But wait a second. You need to receive it. You need to open this gift. Until you have done so, you are not experiencing what God has in store for you.

You can say, “I know Jesus is the Lord. I know He is the Creator of all things. I know He died on the cross. I know He has the answer to all my questions. I know He can forgive me of my sins. He is there knocking. It’s nice to know He’s right there.” But that’s not enough. A gift is only good if it’s being used. So reach out and receive the gift.

Your Christian family can’t do it for you. You can’t do it for yourself just by saying, “I believe in my own way.” You have to say, “Lord, I receive your gift of eternal life, happily and gladly. I trust in your promises and I choose to follow Jesus.”

Have you done that yet? If you are not sure, click KnowGod.org now.