An Undeserved Gift

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8

Who is on your gift list this Christmas? Usually, we give gifts to family and friends. We want to buy gifts for people we love and people we care about. We tend to give gifts to those who treat us well, people who are kind and considerate to us. And often we will give gifts in return for gifts that we have received. Some of us will even buy gifts for our pets.

However, we generally don’t buy gifts for our enemies, do we? We don’t give a gift to the person who has slandered us in the past year. We don’t give a gift to the irate neighbor who never has a kind word to say. We don’t give a gift to someone who has tried to run us out of business. Nor do we send a gift to the thief who stole the car stereo last month.

But think about this: when God sent Jesus Christ, His Son, and gave us this ultimate gift, He gave it to us while we were still His enemies. The Bible tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We did nothing whatsoever to merit or deserve this gift. In fact, what we really deserve is judgment, because we all have sinned against God. We all have deliberately crossed that line.

The amazing truth of Christmas is that, in spite of our sins, God sent His Son to save us. In that tiny manger in Bethlehem, He gave us an undeserved gift.

Share what receiving God’s undeserved gift of Jesus means to you.

As a Harvest Partner, you join us in helping our generation know God and make Him known.

Because you support Harvest Ministries, you’re investing in the lives of men, women, and young people who will come to know Jesus Christ through our outreach events, radio, television, and online resources.

Your monthly support provides the means to reach the lost, preach the Word, and be a source of relevant Bible teaching around the world. Your partnership also helps us to plan ahead and take advantage of every opportunity God brings our way.

Thank you for being a Harvest Partner!

Sharing His Message

Paul replied . . . “I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.”—Acts 26:29

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.

The Value of a Soul

I have been asked, “Why do you go out and do Harvest Crusades? Why do you travel to different areas of the country, taking time away from your church and your family to do this? What’s your motive?”

Why do I go out and do this?

Is it the thrill of speaking in front of large crowds? No, I can’t say that’s it because, in many cases, the crowds may be smaller than our combined attendance at Harvest Christian Fellowship on a given Sunday.

Is it the thrill of travel? Absolutely not. The novelty of travel wore off a long time ago.

Is it because it’s a lot of fun? Well, we do have a lot of fun. But it isn’t all fun. In reality, it’s a lot of work.

Jesus told the story of a shepherd who had 100 sheep and one went astray. What did the shepherd do? Did he say, “Win a few, lose a few. Too bad”?

No, he left the 99 and went after that one sheep. You see, God doesn’t just value multitudes; He values individuals. He values the human soul.

Several years ago, my neighbor told me about a man named Roy who lived in our neighborhood. Roy had a very serious heart ailment, and there was nothing more that could be done for him. So he had been discharged from the hospital and was basically sent home to die.

My neighbor said to me, “Roy is not a Christian, but he has been to one of your crusades. Maybe you should try to talk to him.”

One morning, my wife and I were out walking when my neighbor pointed out Roy to us. So we walked over to him and introduced ourselves. As we talked, it became clear that Roy was not a believer. He had a lot of questions.

Every day, we ran into him and would talk a little bit more. Then I gave Roy a copy of one of my books, which presents the gospel message. I encouraged him to take the book home and read it and then asked if we could talk again.

Roy came back the next day and said, “I read your whole book.” He had more questions. We talked a little bit more, but Roy still did not seem ready to make a commitment to Christ.

One morning, as we were having family devotions, I looked out the window. There was Roy, standing in front of our house. He was out on a walk and had stopped to rest, right in front of our house.

Here we were, reading the Bible, and Roy was standing there. I sensed it was time. So I walked outside and said, “Roy, let’s talk a little more.” As we talked, I said, “Roy, I think you need to settle this right now. You need to get right with God. Why don’t you pray right now and give your life to Christ?”

He said, “I’m ready to do that.”

“Great,” I said. So we prayed, and Roy asked the Lord to come into his life.

The next morning, we saw Roy. He had a big smile on his face. He said he had just been singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Every time we saw Roy, it seemed like he had grown a little more.

His son-in-law told me later that Roy went to his whole family and announced, “You are looking at a brand-new Christian right now!”

Some time later, Roy’s son-in-law knocked on our door. He said, “Roy died last night. I wanted to tell you.”

Certainly there was sadness. But there also was the joy of knowing that Roy was in his new body in heaven. I thought to myself, “What if I had been too busy?” We can make up so many excuses. But God had provided me with a wonderful opportunity to talk with Roy.

So why take the time to share the gospel and hold events like the Harvest Crusades? The answer is obvious: It’s the value of a soul.

God values the Roys of the world. He values you. And He values me. Yet in our culture today, we often place the greatest value on that which, for the most part, has no value. Meanwhile, we completely ignore that which has the greatest value.

Is anything worth more than a soul? The answer, obviously, is no. God values the human soul. And so should we.

Disciplemaking

“So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.” (Colossians 1:28 NLT)

Jesus commanded us to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19 NLT). But what does that mean? It means that to the best of our ability, being led by the Holy Spirit, we are to invite people to follow Christ. Then we are to help them get on their feet spiritually and help them to start growing and keep moving forward. We want to help them grow up.

Somewhere along the line, however, we have separated evangelism from discipleship, but we see no such distinction in Scripture. The idea is not just to lead people to Christ and then say, “God bless you. See you later.” Rather, it is to help them grow and mature in their faith. New believers need help as they make that commitment to follow the Lord.

New believers are just like new babies, and babies need help. And not only do new believers need help, but they need protection as well. The apostle Paul, writing to new believers in Galatia, said, “Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives” (Galatians 4:19 NLT).

You can’t just turn a baby loose in a house. You have to watch them, because they get themselves into mischief all the time. You have to watch over babies constantly, because they are constantly getting into trouble.

The same is true of new believers. They make a commitment to Christ and are so vulnerable. Old friends will call up and ask them to engage in things they shouldn’t. Old boyfriends or girlfriends will contact them again. Those temptations will come. And you, as an older, more mature believer, need to help them and guide them in that regard so they don’t fall away.

Will you make yourself available to come alongside a new believer and help them to grow in their faith? They won’t be the only one to grow and be blessed!

Share you story below—we would love to hear about your discipleship adventure!

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.