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Greg Laurie - What You Are Really Looking For?

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    Greg Laurie - What You Are Really Looking For?

The title of my message is, "What You Really Are Looking For". You know, from the moment you were born, you've effectively been on a quest. You've been searching. Goes back to your childhood and sooner or later, every thinking person gets around to asking the big questions in life such as, what is the meaning of life? Why am I here on this earth? Why do I exist? What happens after I die? And finally, who let the dogs out? Now, that's a stupid song. I don't know where they're, I don't care about the dogs. But, we really do get around to asking these questions because we are wired by God for something more. The Bible says that God has placed eternity in our hearts. We want to make a mark. We want our life to count for something. We want to do something. We want to have significance and that's why I think so many people are so drawn to social media.

I wanna get more followers and I wanna be more well known. In fact, I read recently that a poll was taken of young people and they were asked what they wanted more than anything else and the answer was, I want to be rich and famous. Rich and famous. Is that all it's really cracked up to be? If being rich and being famous was what people thought it was, why are there so many miserable, rich and famous people? They're miserable. You look at so many of them what's happened. There's a group of people known as the 27 Club. In fact, I read about that in this new book, "Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus". What's a 27 Club?

These are people that unfortunately died at the very young age of 27. Some of the names in that club are Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. Others joined this club in later times like Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. In fact of fame, Amy Winehouse made this statement and I quote, "Famous like terminal cancer. I wouldn't wish it on anyone" end quote. And then look at how many lives have been destroyed through drugs and alcohol, such a long list, such a tragic list.

Whitney Houston, Heath ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Jackson, Prince, Anna Nicole Smith, River Phoenix, Scott Weiland, Cory Monteith, Elvis Presley. Most recently Taylor Hawkins from the Foo Fighters, John Belushi, Chris Farley, all died of drug overdoses and then there were those that have taken their life through suicide that reached all the goals people would hope to reach. People like Anthony Bourdain, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Ernest Hemingway, Alexander McQueen, Michael Hutchence, Hunter S. Thompson, Keith Speed. The list just goes on and on this emptiness. No, fame is not the answer. Money is not the answer. Jesus is the answer. This is what we're looking for. I wanna tell you a story that's 2000 years old, but it is totally relevant today.

I wanna tell you a story about a young man that had it all together. He was wealthy, he was climbing up the corporate ladder, he probably had a BMW chariot lowered, super cool. Came up to Jesus. He was drinking a lavender, oat milk latte, and he asked Jesus an important question that we're still asking today. And here's what he said, it's in Matthew chapter 19 verse 16. This man came up to Jesus with this question, "Teacher, what good things must I do to have eternal life"? Jesus said, "Why do you call me good? What is good? Only God is good. But to answer your question, you can have eternal life if you keep the commandments". This rich young ruler asks, "Which ones"? Jesus replied, "Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not lie. Honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself". The man replied, "I've obeyed all these commandments. What else must I do"? Jesus said, "If you wanna be perfect, go sell all that you have, give the money to the poor and you'll have treasure in heaven, then come and follow me," and when the young man heard this, he went away sadly, because he had many possessions.

You see, this young man thought stuff would fill the hole in his heart. And we do the same thing today. "Oh, if I was just married, I would be happy". Then you get married. "Well, if we just had kids, then we would be happy". Then you have kids. "If we could just get rid of these kids, then we would be happy again". If we just bought a home in California, I'd be happy". Oh, if we sold and moved to Idaho, then we would happy," right? "Oh, if I could just retire, then I would be happy". And on and on it goes, and you can be like a dog chasing its own tail, going around in circles, and literally wasting your life. This rich young ruler hadn't found what he was looking for. So, he comes to Jesus. "What do I have to do to find eternal life"? Jesus says, "Keep the commandments".

Now let me point this out. Keeping the Ten Commandments will not make you a Christian. If you are a Christian, you should seek to keep them, but Jesus brought this up to show this man that he had indeed had broken many of those commandments. So this young guy said, "Oh, I've kept all of those since they've been a kid". If we would've read in the next verse and Jesus smacked him across the face, it would've been relevant. By the way, it's never good to smack people across the face. Too soon? It's also not a good idea to throw water on Mike Tyson on an airplane. Yeah, he was sort of a heavyweight champion of the world. I don't think this is gonna end well. He had not kept the commandments nor have you. God did not give us the commandments to make us righteous, he gave us the commandments to show us, we're not righteous. They open our eyes and they shut our mouths. Do you keep the Ten Commandments? We've all broken them. Most people don't even know them.

I read a survey that revealed more people know the names of the Four Beatles than a single commandment. Isn't that interesting? And we say, "Well, I've heard some of them, like we know one, you shall not commit murder". And you'll say, "Well, at least I haven't done that". Well, I hope you haven't. And if you have, please don't raise your hand no one will wanna sit next to you. But even if you had committed that sin, God would forgive you. Remember the story in the Bible of the thief on the cross, we call him actually, he was a criminal on the cross. He was probably a murderer on the cross because the Romans did not crucify thieves. He turned to Jesus and he said, "What must I do? What must I do"? And he said, "Remember me, Lord, when you come into your kingdom". Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise".

Man, talking about getting in under the wire. I may be talking to somebody right now that is hearing their last sermon. Someone who is not gonna live another day. Someone's name is gonna end up in that obituary column tomorrow. It doesn't take years to become a Christian, it doesn't take months, it doesn't even take hours, it can happen in a moment just like that when you believe in Jesus, think about it. It's not what you do for God, it's what Christ has done for you. Imagine that thief ending up in heaven like, "Who are you"? He says, "I don't even know how I got here. I was talking to Jesus in a moment ago and here I am". All because of what Christ did for him and Christ did the same for you, but we've broken these commandments.

You say, "Well, I haven't murdered anybody". Well, the fact of the matter is, Jesus said, "You've heard it said you shall not murder, but I say if you have hatred in your heart towards someone you've murdered, therefore we're all murderers". Oh, you've heard it said, Jesus said, "You shall not commit adultery, but I say to you, if you look at a woman or a man with lust in your heart, you've committed adultery". We've broken these commandments. And this is the point, Jesus brought this up so this man would acknowledge that he had done this very thing and would see his need for Jesus. And this is what we all need to see. And Jesus was giving this man a chance to believe. There's an interesting twist on this story in another gospel. After he said this, the Bible says, Jesus looked at him and loved him. If you forget everything else they've said to you tonight, I want you to remember this, God loves you. He loves you. God is not mad at you, he's mad about you. He wants a relationship with you. That's what we're talking about. Folks, this is not about religion. This is not about just going to church. This is about having your life transform by Jesus Christ right here, right now, it can happen.

Hey, everybody, Pastor Greg here with a few thoughts about spiritual growth. How can you tell when you've really begun to grow spiritually? Is it when your head is so full of Bible knowledge that it's ready to explode? No, no. This will surprise you maybe. One of the true marks of growing spiritually is when you realize you have a lot further to go spiritually. After years of walking with the Lord, the great Apostle Paul himself said, "Hey, it's not as though I've already attained or reached some plateau, but I'm pressing on in this race of life, forgetting the things that are behind and reaching to the things that are before". Listen, I know I have a lot of change that needs to happen in my life. I need to know the Bible better. I need to pray more. I need to share my faith more. I have a long ways to go, we all do. But a true mark of spiritual growth is when you realize you have a long ways to go. So, let's keep moving forward in the race of life.

There's a story in the Bible about a father who had two sons and one of the sons ran away from home. He was tired of his father's rules and regulations. He thought he could have more fun outside of his father's house. And Jesus said, this young man went away to another country and spent all of his money. He was impoverished, he lost his money and he lost his friends. You know, when you have a lot of money, you'll have a lot of friends. But when his money was gone, his friends were gone too. Reminds you of two guys that were out camping probably here in Idaho and they were getting up in the morning and one friend was putting his running shoes on really quickly and he said, "Where are you going"? He goes look and there was a big bear running at them full speed. And his buddy said, "You don't think you can outrun the bear, do you"? He says, "I don't need to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you," see.

That's how some so-called friends are. They walk out when you need them? They're not there. So this boy lost all of his friends and he came to his senses and he said, "I'll just go back home and say, dad, I've messed up, I've sinned. I'm not worthy to be called your son anymore. Could you just give me a job? I don't expect to be returned to sonship again," but Jesus who told this story to show us what God is like, said when that boy was still at great ways away, the father saw him got up, and ran to him and threw his arms around him and kissed him and said, let's have a party. Let's have some barbecue because my son who is dead is alive again and he who was lost is found. And that's how God feels about you right now. I might be talking to a prodigal son or daughter. You were raised in the church, you were raised believing, but you've walked away from God or you've never even had a relationship with God perhaps. You can come back to him and he will welcome you with open arms. You wanna find out who your real friends are? Follow Jesus Christ and you'll know quickly.

So after I became a Christian, I had a bunch of friends that were druggies, we did drugs together, made a lot of bad decisions and I didn't know what to do. I wasn't quite comfortable around the Christians yet, a little too much praise the Lord and hallelujah from my taste, but of my friends that I used to hang out with, I didn't wanna do what they did anymore so I went a week without talking to them. So we used to go to this one guy's house, not far from my high school, we would literally get high there every day. And, but I hadn't seen them for a week since I accepted Christ. And so I was on my way over to their house just to see what they were up to and one of the Christians ran up to me and said, "Greg, Greg brother, Greg," I'm thinking, who is this guy? I'm not his brother. Unless it's a brother from another mother, I don't know. He says, "Bro, praise God". I'm like, yeah. Okay, fine. Whatever. "Bro, I have a Bible for you".

And he gives me a Bible. It was a beat up thrashed Bible with popsicle sticks on it, in the shape of a cross. "This is your Bible, bro". I'm like, okay, thank you. And he walks off, and I shoved it in my pocket, I didn't want anyone to see it. I wasn't ready to talk about my faith yet. So I went over to my friend's house where I'd often gone and I hid my Bible in the bushes, in front of his house. I wasn't a very bold witness yet. And I walked in and they said, "Laurie, where have you been"? I said, "Nowhere". "What have you been up to"? I said, "Nothing". And God told Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, "Tell them about Jesus". And I said, "No way". So I sat down. One of them said, "Greg, you wanna get high"? I said, "No". "Come on. What have you been up to Laurie"? I said, "Nothing". They're all thinking. Something's wrong with Greg? And then the guy's mother walks in holding my Bible. She says, "I found this in the bushes, who does this belong to"? Like I committed a crime or something.

And that lady, you have kids doing drugs in your house and you're worried about a Bible? "Who does this belong to"? Every eye in the room went to the Bible and then they went to me. They knew there was a connection. I said, "Oh that's mine". "Laurie, what is that"? I said, "Bible". "What"? "It's a Bible". "What"? "It's a Bible"! One of my friends said, "Oh, a Bible. Oh, praise the Lord, brother, Greg". "Are we gonna be Christians now"? I said, "No, I'm gonna hit you in the mouth". I had not read 1 Corinthians 13 yet, okay, so. They mocked me, they made fun of me, they gave me a hard time and I walked down and I said, "I don't need these so-called friends anymore".

So that's how you'll find out real fast who your friends are, follow Jesus Christ. But listen, this young man did not want to give up his possessions. It wasn't about his possessions, it was about his heart. Yes, you have to give some things up to follow Jesus Christ, but whatever you give up to follow him, he will more than make up to you. Think about it. What are you gonna be giving up? You're gonna be giving up emptiness for fulfillment. Misery for joy. Hell for heaven. That's a good deal. So this young man heard this message of Christ and the Bible says he went away sad. I can't do that. I'm not willing to make a change. I'm not willing to do anything differently. He went away sad.

Now let me tell you another story briefly about a man that went to Jerusalem, searching for God. He worked for the queen of Ethiopia. He was powerful, he was wealthy, he was like a government official. And he went there searching for answers to his spiritual questions and he did not find them because religion does not have the answers to the questions you have. But then the Bible says there was a man named Philip who was a preacher who saw this man from Ethiopia and this man who was visiting that city was reading out loud from Isaiah 53, that actually talks about the death and sacrifice of Jesus and Philip said to this Ethiopian dignitary, "Do you understand what you're reading"? The man said, "How can I, unless someone shows me the way"? And Philip climbed up into his chariot with him and read him the scripture and explained it and that man believed in Jesus at that very moment.

So here's two wealthy, affluent men, two powerful men, one went away mad, the other went away glad. So you have a choice tonight as you leave the ExtraMile Arena, you can go away mad, you can go away sad, or you can go away glad, it's up to you. What do you wanna do? It comes down to what you do with Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was the Son of God who came to this earth and was born in a manger in Bethlehem. He lived a perfect life. Then he died a perfect death and died on the cross for your sin and as spikes were driven through his hands and his feet, he took all of the sin of the world upon himself, including yours. And then he rose again three days later and he's alive and he's here with us right now. And Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and I knock and if you'll hear my voice and open the door, I will come in".

So here's the choice before you. You can go away mad, you can go away glad, you can go away sad. It's up to you. If you say yes, to Jesus Christ, he will come into your life and forgive you of all of your sins. Think about that for a moment, every wrong you've ever done. Every sin you've ever committed will be forgiven and God doesn't just forgive sins, he forgets sins. The Bible says, God speaking, "Their sins and iniquities while I remember no more". So how do you come into this relationship with God? How can you know that you'll go to heaven when you die? How can you find this joy in this happiness that you're longing for? Here's what you need to do.

Step number one, you need to realize you're a sinner. I know some people don't like to be called sinners, but the Bible says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". There's not one righteous, no not one. What does it mean to sin? It means to cross a line. You've seen a sign in a park maybe that says no trespassing? To sin is to trespass, it's to cross the line. It's to break one of the commandments like we've all done, but sin also means to miss a mark. God has set a mark for all of humanity which is perfection. Jesus said, "Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect". You say, "Who can be perfect"? Answer, "No one". That's where Jesus comes in. That's why he died for your sin so you have to admit you are a sinner.

Number two, recognize Christ died on the cross in your place. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father but by me". Only Christ was qualified to bridge the gap between a holy God and sinful humanity. Realize that he did that for you. Coming back to the rich young ruler's question. "What good things must I do to have eternal life"? Answer. There are not enough good things you could do to have eternal life. You couldn't even have all those great works to get your way in even if you tried. Besides heaven is not for good people, heaven is for forgiven people. You need to be forgiven of your sin. Eternal life is a gift. The Bible calls it the indescribable gift.

So if I were to offer you a gift here tonight, and you wanted the gift, what do you need to do? You just reach out and take it. And I don't care how you take it, just take it, it's a gift. You don't earn it, you don't deserve it, but God offers it to you. Christ bought it for you at the cross with his own blood. It's sort of like when you give a gift to a man or a woman. When you give a gift to a woman with a card, she'll open the card. She might even be touched by what she reads. Thank you so much. She'll carefully undo the ribbon. She'll say I'm gonna use this somewhere else. Undo the package, open it, "Thank you".

That's a woman opening a gift. You give a gift to a man, he opens a card, he's not reading it. He's just seeing if there's money in it or a gift card. He tosses it aside, the wrapping paper is just a barrier to him. I don't care if you open it like a man or a woman, just open the gift of eternal life that God offers to each and every one of you here and you that are watching as well. It's a gift. The Bible also says you need to repent of your sin. What does repent mean? It's a military term. It means to change your direction, sort of like an about face. So you turn away from that old life. You turn away from that sin. The Bible says, "Repent and be converted and times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord".

So would you like to accept Jesus Christ into your life right now? Here's what you need to know. You're a sinner. I don't mean that as an insult, we're all sinners. The Bible says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". That's why we need a Savior. That's why Jesus died on the cross for us. The Bible says, "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us". He took all of the punishment for your sin, for my sin upon himself as he hung there. With one hand he took hold of God, with the other hand he took hold of humanity and they pounded spikes to those hands, and as the Bible says, Christ died for our sins. "So what do I need to do"? Well, I need to turn from my sin. The Bible says, repent and be converted. The word repent is a military term. It sort of means an about face.

So, turn your back on sin and now start walking towards God. And then you need to receive Jesus Christ into your life. You see, becoming a Christian is not becoming a religious person. I don't wanna be a religious person. This is about a relationship where you ask Jesus to be your friend, your Savior, your Lord. Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and I knock and if you'll hear my voice and open the door, I will come in". So you need to ask Christ to come into your life and then you need to do it right now. The Bible says, "Today is the day of salvation". Right now, Christ can come and live inside of your heart and I'm gonna lead you in a simple prayer. I would ask that you would pray this prayer out loud after me. If you want your sin forgiven. If you wanna know that you'll go to heaven when you die. If you wanna fill that big hole in your heart, pray this prayer with me right now. Pray:

Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for me. I turn from my sin and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering it in Jesus name I pray, amen.

If you just prayed that prayer and meant it, I want you to know on the authority of scripture that Jesus Christ himself has come to take residence in your heart. And God bless you. You've made the most important decision of your life.
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