Greg Laurie - Just A Moment
You know, one of the things that strikes me about life is how quickly it passes. You know, when you're young, doesn't it seem as though life moves at a snail's pace? I vividly remember being in elementary school, bored beyond comprehension. We're just waiting, waiting for the clock to strike the right number and we got up for recess, or we got outta school. It seemed like I was in elementary school for 30 years, right? Every day seemed to take forever.
Now time goes by so quickly. Weeks go by, what, it's Sunday already? What, it's the month is over already? What, it's a new year already? Billy Graham was once asked what the greatest surprise of his life was, and he said, "The brevity of it". And I think that's true. And so as life goes by so quickly, it just seems as though it's speeding up. It really isn't. Scientists tell us the reason life seems to go faster when you're older is because you're not having new experiences. You know, you get into a routine, and you go to the same restaurant, and you sit in the same table, and you order the same thing off the menu, and you come to church and you sit in the same seats.
And I know where you all sit by the way. I know when you're not here. Oh, well, so-and-so's not here today, where are they? Someone is in their seat. We like routine, but when you're young, you're more open to change and new opportunities. I read an article yesterday in the paper about "Signs You're Getting Old". Two thousand adults were polled. One of them was, you forget people's names. Oh, that's so true, isn't it? That even happens when you're young, right? You're talking to someone. "How are you? Hey, good to see you". "I don't remember their name". And you're hoping they'll use their name in a sentence. You're just waiting, just waiting. You just say your name in some way and they don't say it. "Good to see you, see you next time," and you start forgetting things like that.
Here's another sign of getting old. You don't know any songs on the top ten. I have to admit that may be true of me right now. Another sign of getting old is you avoid lifting things because of back concerns. By the way, this is a great way to get out of lifting things too. "Oh, I can't, my back, you know". But seriously, I'll think, if I take the other end of that sofa, am I going to pay for this later? Because you throw your back out, it's a situation, right?
Another sign of getting old, you fall asleep in front of the TV every night. Just last night I was watching something and I fell asleep. Cathy says to me, "Greg, are you sleeping"? I'm like, "No". I was, why do we deny it? It's not a sin to sleep, unless you sleep all day, and here's another sign of getting old, complaining about things more, complaining. Another sign, taking a nap every day. I actually kinda like to do that but that's a sign of getting old. Here's one final one, you start driving very slowly. I mean, really slow. Like, way too slow, like, just stop, hurry. And you're always in a Prius. You know it's true, it's true, I'm telling you, this is totally true. There's something wrong with Prius drivers. How many of you drive a Prius? Seriously? Get out. No, don't. You probably get much better mileage than the rest of us, so congratulations on that wise car choice.
And let me just say to you in closing, drive faster. No, don't, no do, especially if you're in the fast lane. But life passes so quickly. Job 14:1 says, "How short is life? How full of trouble? We blossom like a flower and then we wither like a passing shadow. We quickly disappear". Now, I know some of you who are young and thinking, oh Greg, come on, this is a message for old people. I've got my whole life in front of me. Yes, you probably do, and I hope you do, and I hope you live that life well, but you never know, right?
I read a true story, a tragic story about a singer, Richard Versailles, age 63, singing at the Metropolitan Opera. He climbed up on a ladder for a scene, and he was singing these lyrics, "Too bad you can only live so long". Then he had a heart attack and died on the stage in front of everybody. How sad though. "Too bad you can live for only so long". And that's so true, too bad. But the brevity of life is what James is addressing now, and the importance of living your life in the will of God.
James 4, let's read a few verses. I'm reading 13 to 17 from the New Living Translation. James says, "Look here, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.' How do you know what your life is gonna be like tomorrow"? Asks James. "Your life is like the morning fog, it's here for a little while, then it's gone. What you ought to say is, 'If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.' Otherwise, you're boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember," James says, "It is a sin to know what you want to do and not do it". We'll stop there.
Point number one if you're taking notes, life is short, live it well. Life is short, live it well. James asks in verse 14, "How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow"? Really what James is asking is what kind of life are you living? What are you doing with this precious gift called life right now? It's an important question to answer because life goes by so quickly. Job 9 says, "My life passes more swiftly than a runner. It flees away filled with tragedy. It disappears like a swift boat".
David says the same thing in Psalm 39. He says, "My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you. Human existence is but a breath. We're merely moving shadows. We're busy, and our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth for someone else to spend. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you". Wow. So now James is addressing Christian business people. People who are out there working hard to make a living. In this particular instance, he's talking to successful Christian business people, those who had done quite well. He's commending them for it but he's is also reminding them to keep God at the forefront of their lives and remember that everything they've accomplished has come from the Lord. Because sometimes people forget about the Lord.
Bringing me to point number two, we should plan for the future but put God's will first. Yes, plan for the future but put God's will first. Sometimes people may think it's unspiritual to plan, and actually it's very spiritual to plan. Proverbs 6:6 says, "Take a lesson from the ants, you sluggard. Learn from their ways and become wise! They labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter". Hey, check out the ants before you step on them. They work hard, they're always busy. Little ants moving big stuff around, ants getting ready for the future. Take a lesson from the ants. You know, it seems right now that in our nation there's a trend toward laziness. I think it was always there, but certainly COVID accelerated it.
Add a bunch of government money given to people and a lot of people are not returning back to the workforce today. I don't know if you've noticed, but there's a lot of employment opportunities out there. It's getting hard for a lot of folks out there to find people to come and work. And we're losing that very principle our nation was built on. Our nation was built on the importance of personal responsibility, innovation, and working hard. It's called the protestant work ethic. It's a good thing. This is why we live in a strong and prosperous nation. If we lose it, we have problems. And the Bible tells us in Romans 12:11, "Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically".
So I don't know what you do for a living, but you should be the best at what you do. You should work harder than anybody else. You should get in early, you should leave a little bit later, you should work cheerfully, and you should do everything you do for the glory of God wherever it is. God has not called everyone into so-called ministry. He hasn't called everyone to be a preacher but he has called us all to minister and serve the Lord and give honor to God whatever our profession is.
If you're a doctor, do it for the glory of God. I'll tell you what, if I need surgery, I don't need a preacher, I need a godly surgeon who knows what he's doing, right? I may need a Christian attorney. I may need someone else in another field, and building, and in music, and in art, and in politics. We need strong believers out there to represent us well. And so this is what we all are called to do, to work hard and to honor God. But the problem with these folks James is addressing is they're believers but they're living like practical atheists. And by that I mean, they're not factoring God into anything, they're just making their plans and forgetting about God. So James is reminding them, "Hey, keep God's will at the forefront of your life".
You know, the book of Jonah is a story of a man who was called by God to do something and did not want to do it. Of course, we think about the whale in the story of the book of Jonah and he has like three verses. But the rest of the book is about a man who was called to go to people he did not wanna go to with a message he did not wanna bring. Here's my question for you, is there someone in your life that it's really hard for you to talk to? It might be your parents, it might be your children, your teenage children. It might be your siblings, it might be your spouse and a just tense kind of a thing. I'm encouraging you to pray first and engage people you love and you know in a conversation about the Lord. Because listen, there is power in the gospel. Try to engage someone in a conversation about Jesus today.
It should be the joy, it should be the delight, it should be the desire of every Christian to do God's will. When a person is truly converted, and by that I mean when a person is truly coming to a relationship with Christ, it will be reflected in the way that they live, starting with the repentance from sin. There'll be a humility there, a desire to pray. You'll have a new love for others that wasn't there before, and you will want to do God's will. And so this is the point that James is making is remember to factor the Lord in everything that you do. By the way, when we talk about the will of God, there are certain things in the Bible that are clearly God's will for everyone. This doesn't vary from person to person. You might wanna write these verses down.
Number one, it is the will of God that you are filled with the Holy Spirit each and every day. Did you know that? That's God's will for you. Ephesians 5:17 says, "Don't act thoughtlessly, understand what the will of the Lord is. Don't be drunk with wine because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit". And by the way, in the original language that's a command. So God is saying, "I command you to be filled with the Holy Spirit". And then also in the Greek, it speaks of something that's continuous, meaning do it over and over again. So God is saying, "I command you to be filled with the Holy Spirit again and again and again". So a great way to start your day, maybe when you're still lying in bed, you just say, "Lord, fill me with the Holy Spirit today. Give me all the power that I need".
Number two, God wants you to be holy, and as a result, sexually pure. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, "God's will for you is to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor not in lustful passions like the non-believers who do not know God". Okay, well what does this mean? Pretty clear, no premarital sex, no extra-marital sex. The only sex God will bless is the union of a man and a woman in marriage, end of story, that's it. Not a man and a man, not a woman and a woman, not a man who wants to become a woman or a woman who wants to become a man. No, God's order is a man and a woman in marriage faithful to each other for life. Anything outside of that is not God's will. Here's another one. God calls each and every one of us to pray and give thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you". So put God's will first in your life.
Listen to this, to know God's will, point number three, you need to present yourself to God each and every day. This is based on Romans 12:1 and 2, where Paul says, "I urge you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies". And that means your total being, your personality, your will, your future. "Present your bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is your reasonable service". Which means it's the logical thing to do. Then he says, "Don't be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may know what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God". You wanna know God's will? Present yourself to him and don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How do you do that? Fill it with scripture, and then you'll know God's will. And what does he say about God's will? "The good and acceptable will of God". God's will is good, God's will is perfect.
Now sometimes, the Lord says no to us. When we wanna do something, he says no. "Oh, God's out to ruin my fun". No, no, the Bible says "No good thing will he withhold from those that walk uprightly". So if God says no, it's for your own good. Now you're gonna have to live a few years to figure that out maybe. Because you say, "Oh no, I know better than God". Well, you'll see, don't learn the hard way. Maybe learn from the experience of others. No plan of ours can improve on the will of God, we only see bits and pieces, he sees the whole. He sees the past, the present, and the future and its total context as related to eternity.
So don't be afraid to say, "Not my will but yours be done". So here's what you need to do. You need to come to the Lord say, "Alright Lord, here's the life you have given me. Here are my plans, here are my aspirations, here are my dreams along with my weaknesses and shortcomings and sins. I offer it all to you because I believe your plans are better than mine". That's really what this is all about.
So I heard this story about a father and a son who went to the hardware store. The dad was finishing his purchase, and the owner of the hardware store pointed to a big jar of candy right there on the counter. And he said, "Little boy", to the little boy, "Son, take some of this candy, grab a handful, it's free. The little guy just looked up at his father". And then the hardware store owner again said, "Son, I told you, the candy is free, grab a handful. Take as much as you want in your hand". Again, the little boy just looks up at his father. Finally, his dad grabs a handful of candy and gives it to his son.
So, they get in the car, and they're driving home, and the father asks the son, "Why didn't you grab the free candy"? The boy with a big smile said, "Because, dad, your hand is bigger than mine". All right? You think you know where I'm going with this? God's hand is bigger than ours. "Oh, I don't wanna say your will be done," why? "Well, it won't be what I want. It'll be harder". Wait. What if it's better than anything you ever even imagined? The Bible says he is able to do abundantly above and beyond that which you could ask or think. Listen, never be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God. He loves you. His plan for you is good. So we need to include God in all of our plans.
Number five, we need to give God the glory for our life and health. So whatever you've accomplished in life, or whatever you're about to accomplish in life, just remember God gave it to you. There are some people that have done very well. They might say, "I've done well, I've been shrewd, I've invested well, I've saved, I pivoted at the right moment and done great in life". Okay fantastic, but remember Deuteronomy 8:18 says, "Remember the Lord your God gave you the ability to produce wealth". Okay, so whatever you've done, that's still a gift of God. "Yeah, but I worked hard". God gave you the ability to work hard. God gave you the breath in your lungs. God has given you the beat of your heart.
The Bible tells a story of King Nebuchadnezzar ruling Babylon, which at that moment historically was the most powerful kingdom on the face of the Earth. And it was a magnificent kingdom for sure. There before Nebuchadnezzar was all the glory of this community and city he had built. One day he went out to his royal balcony and he surveyed his mighty kingdom. Before him rose the hanging gardens of Babylon one of the ancient world seven wonders, stretched around Babylon were these huge walls that were 360 feet high, 87 feet thick, wide enough for six chariots to ride abreast. He's checking it all out and he says, "Check out this great city that I've built".
And the Bible says, before he could finish the sentence, God brought his judgment on Nebuchadnezzar. He entered into a form of mental illness for a period of time, where he literally thought he was an animal. He was on all fours. God restored his sanity, and Nebuchadnezzar turned to the Lord and believed in him. Remember, give God the glory for all that you have. One final point, we need to do what God has called us to do. We need to do what God has called us to do.
Look at verse 17. "Remember it's sin to know what you ought to do and not do it". This is speaking of the sin of omission. In the Bible there is the sin of commission and omission. Do you know the difference? The sin of commission is what you do when you do what you shouldn't do, when you cross the line, when you break the commandment, when you fall short of the standard, which is God's glory. The sin of omission is when you know to do right and you don't do it. And I think Christians are more guilty of the sin of omission than they realize. "To him that knows to do good," verse 17, "And yet does not do it, to him it is sin".
Let's take the gospel as an example. We have been commanded by Jesus to go into all the world and preach the gospel. That's what he says, "Go into all this world, preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit". We say amen, great. When is the last time you did it? When is the last time you engaged someone in a gospel conversation? Stats tell us that 95% of Christians have never led another person to Christ. Two percent of churchgoers invited an unchurched person to church in the last year, two percent. See, the problem for many of us is the great commission has become the great omission.
Let me say something that might sound controversial, but I think it's biblical and true. It can be a sin to not share your faith with someone. "Well, you're wrong, Greg. You know, we should, we should, but it's not a sin", hold on, "To him that knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin". Let me illustrate. Let's say you're walking down the street and there's a house on fire and someone says, "There's a child in there". Now, I hope at the very least you will call 911. Maybe you'll be a hero and try to run in the burning house and save the child. But if you just kept walking, oh, first you take a picture, "Gotta post that on social," and you keep walking, that's irresponsible, that's almost criminal.
Now we have a whole culture that needs to know God, and let me take a quick poll, how many of you believe the Bible is true? Raise your hand up, okay. How many of you believe what the Bible teaches about the afterlife and that there really is a heaven? Raise your hand up. How many of you believe that in this afterlife there is also a hell and a future judgment? Raise your hand up. Okay, most of you raise your hand, here's my question now. Why are we not doing more people to keep them from going to hell? Because the Bible actually tells us that we should seek to snatch people from the flames of judgment.
You say, "Oh gosh, Greg, you know, I don't know. I'm afraid I'll say the wrong thing, or I won't have an answer to their question". Or yeah, okay, so? I think you know more than you think you know. And I think you might be surprised at what will pop into your mind and out of your mouth when you take a step of faith and say, "Lord, use me". In fact, you might be so good, you'll want to take notes on yourself. Well, where'd that come from? Well, you'd never know where it came from if you don't take the step of faith. And I suggest to you that there are times the Lord has nudged you to engage that person. You're walking along, there's some person sitting there on a bench all alone, they look sad and dejected.
And maybe the Lord said, "Just go over there and tell 'em that they're loved by God". "I don't wanna do that". Why not? "Well, what if they laugh at me"? Yeah, well, what if they take an interest in what you're saying? Let me take it a step further, what if they wanna hear what you have to say? What if they come to Jesus Christ? How about that? I'd rather take the risk and not have it go so well. But many times it goes better than you may think it will. And speaking of serving the Lord, I believe the Lord leads us all the time to serve him.
You know, it's interesting the Bible uses different kinds of phrases over 58 times. Like love one another, care for one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, support one another, one another. That's what it's all about. Here's how you know you're maturing spiritually. When it stops being about you and it starts being about others. Well instead of coming to church, you don't say, "What about my needs," but instead you say, "I've been so blessed by God, how can I serve the Lord"?
And how do I serve God? I serve God by serving other people. Serving the Lord by serving them, how can I help? So, when we get up here and say, you know, we could use some help in Sunday school, or, well, we could use some folks helping us in new convert counseling, or helping people find their seats, or park their cars, or, well, we could use some help over here or there. And you say, "Well, you know, here they are Lord, send them". And instead, I should be saying, "Here I am Lord, send me".