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Greg Laurie - Give Me This Mountain

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    Greg Laurie - Give Me This Mountain

Time is passing quickly. We can't control that, but we do control what we will do with that time. What should we do with our time, If we're 90 or if we're 9 or somewhere in between? Here's the simple answer. We should seek to become more and more like Jesus each and every day. That's the ultimate goal for the Christian: to become more like Christ. And we should seek to grow spiritually. We don't wanna rest on our laurels or worse, go backwards spiritually. You want, we wanna always be moving forward in the Christian life. This is why Jesus said, "Remember Lot's wife," three words. Remember Lot's wife. "Why should I remember Lot's wife"?

Well, if you remember the story in the book of Genesis, God delivered Lot, his wife, and their family from Sodom and Gomorrah. His judgment was falling on the city, and he said to them, "Don't look back". But they did look back, or at least she did in particular. And she turned into a pillar of salt. So Jesus says, "Hey, remember Lot's wife". Because the first step to going back is looking back. There's a man of God from the 1600s, an old puritan preacher named Richard Baxter, and he wrote these words, "Spend your time in nothing which you know must be repented of; in nothing which you might not pray for the blessing of God; in nothing with which you would not review with a quiet conscience on your dying bed; in nothing if death should surprise you in the act".

This deals with a lot of those gray areas of life. Is it okay for a Christian to do this or that? Ask yourself the question, put that quote back up on the screen again, and kind of run it through this list. Spend your time in nothing which you know must be repented of and nothing on which you might not pray for the blessing of God. What you're doing, can you ask God to bless it? If you can ask God to bless it, go for it. If you feel awkward praying about it, maybe you shouldn't be doing it. And nothing which you cannot review with a quiet conscience on your dying bed. This is the big one: and nothing which you might not safely and properly be found doing if death should surprise you in the act. I think that's pretty good advice.

Now, you that are young, listen to this, you are laying a foundation in your life today that you will build on for the rest of your life. You're making decisions today that will affect you next year, the next decade, and all the years to come. So you want to make the right decisions in life because, before you know it, you're well on your way in life. Now, as I get older, you know, I wouldn't go back in time if I was given the choice. I would like to have my hair back again, though. I do miss my hair. But, apart from that, hopefully you've learned a few things and have some things to offer to others as well. But, for me, each year has been an adventure walking with Jesus Christ and watching his plan for my life unfold. You know, it's been said, "Success builds barriers, but failure builds bridges". Success builds barriers.

You know, when you act as though you're all that and a bag of chips, and you're living your perfect little Instagram life, because we only take pictures of the great moments, the great meal. We don't take a photograph of the worst meal we ever ate. Though that would be an interesting post, would it not? And then a video of you throwing up afterwards. That'd be horrible. But, anyway, you know, we have all the highlights, "Oh, look at my beautiful life," and all of your images are curated, so they all sort of look the same, and, "Here's my great life that I'm living. Don't you wish you were me"? Who can relate to that? And the reality is, that's not really your complete life, is it? So then that might build a barrier. "I wish I could be like them. Oh, they have the greatest life". But failure builds bridges, you know.

When you say to someone, "Hey, this is my struggle" or "This is my question" or "This is my weakness," someone suddenly says, "Wow, you're just like me, aren't you"? Yes, we are all the same in so many ways. But, so, I look back on my life, and I can see that God was in control. But I have to say, one of the surprises of my Christian life is seeing some people crash and burn spiritually. People that I never thought would fall away fell away. You know, it's funny, you meet certain people, and you say, "I don't know if they're gonna make it as a Christian," and they end up doing really well through their Christian life. And others, you think, "Oh, man, they're gonna make their mark in the world and change the world and God's gonna use them," and they just crash and burn because of bad decisions they make.

But then there are others that start, and they finish well. That's who we wanna be. We wanna start this race well, we wanna run this race well, and we wanna finish this race well because that is the goal. Paul the Apostle wrote in Acts 20, verse 24, he said these words to the elders at Ephesus. We've stood in the very spot where he said these words to them. He said, "None of these things move me", that is, a threat of imprisonment. "I do not count my life dear to myself, but I want to finish my race with joy". So here's the question. How can I finish this race with joy? How can we cross the finish line with flying colors? How can we win the race of life? What is the secret to spiritual longevity? We're all interested in longevity these days. It seems like I see so many articles now on how to live longer. If you eat this, you'll live longer. If you do that, you'll live longer. I actually went to a medical website. They had a list of things you should do if you want to live a longer life physically. I wrote a few of them down.

Number one, eat like an Okinawan. Okay, so, basically the people of Okinawa, Japan, live longer than any other group on Earth. So they've done extensive research on this, and they discovered they ate vegetables that were green and yellow in color and low in calories. And they lived longer. And also they only ate 80% of the food on their plate. I guess it all depends how big the plate is, though, because, you get a really big plate and only eat 80%. But then you read that, and then you read another article about someone who lived to be 103, and they said the secret was they eat bacon every day. So, go figure, you know, what is the answer?

But here's another thing that this medical website said, and I found this interesting. One of the secrets to living a long life is go to church, go to church. They said go to religious services, but go to church. They said, in a 12-year study of people over age 65, those who went more than once a week to church had higher levels of a key immune system protein than their peers who didn't. So, when you go home from church today, and one of your family members who didn't come, you could say, "I'm gonna live longer than you. Should have come with me to church today".

Number two, and I really like this one. Number three, rather. Forgive. This is on a medical website. Forgive because letting go of grudges has surprising physical health benefits. Chronic anger is linked to heart disease, strokes, poor lung health, and other problems. Forgiveness will reduce anxiety, lower your blood pressure, and help you breathe more easily. Isn't that interesting? Forgive. Another one, they said, learn the art of the nap. I have learned this art. I don't take long naps, but every day I'll take maybe a seven or eight minute nap. And it really seems to help me. Those who take a nap each day, according to this study, are 37% less likely to die from heart disease.

Another one, keep moving. Regular physical activity lowers your chance of getting heart disease, diabetes, and other forms of cancer and depression. So this is good advice for physical longevity. But what about some advice for spiritual longevity? Well, we find that here in Joshua 14. Before us is the story of a man who both started and finished his race well. He's not as known as well as Joshua, but him and Joshua were friends, Joshua and Caleb. Caleb is the man I want to talk about because the scene before us here in Joshua 14 is where the tribes of Israel are now receiving their inheritance that God has given to them. Joshua has fulfilled his divine commission, that is, taking possession of the land that God gave to the Jewish people.

I would point out to you that the word inheritance is found 50 times in these nine chapters, reminding us that the Jewish people inherited their land. They did not win it as a spoil of battle or purchase it through a business transaction. They inherited the land. Joshua is dispersing portions of the land of the various tribes. And now Caleb speaks up. Now, Caleb is 85 years old, and he's been waiting for this day for a long time to get his portion of the land. And, in Joshua 14 verse 11, Caleb says, "I'm as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so is now my strength for war for going out and coming in. So give me this mountain". I love this old dude, probably raising up a bony old arm, "Give me this mountain". They're thinking, "This guy's crazy".

Oh, he wasn't crazy at all. He really had as much strength in his older years as he did in his younger years. Why did he have this strength? He gives the answer in Joshua 14, drop down to verse 7, "I was forty years old," says Caleb, "when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land". Now underline this. "For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord, my God". Don't miss that. He's giving us a secret. He's given us a life hack, if you will. "I wholeheartedly followed the Lord, my God".

If you wanna finish well, if you want spiritual longevity, you must wholeheartedly, not half-heartedly, follow the Lord, your God. Look, if you're gonna be a Christian, be a Christian. If you're gonna do this, go for it 100%. And, the problem is, we have a lot of half-hearted people. But Caleb was not half-hearted; he was wholehearted. You know, six times in the Bible, it said of Caleb, "He wholeheartedly, or wholly, followed the Lord, his God". Numbers 14:24, even God says, "Because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and has followed me wholeheartedly. I'll bring him into the land he has entered".

Wow. So Caleb mentions a place called Kadesh-barnea. Forty-five years earlier, the people of Israel, delivered from the bondage of Egypt, come to the brink of the Promised Land. And the point of entry was this place called Kadesh-barnea. Instead of just going in and taking the land that God gave them, they decided to send 12 spies in, 12 spies. And the spies went in and came back with two different reports. We had the majority report, and we had the minority report. They all saw the same thing, but they saw it differently. First, there was the majority report; ten spies said, "Oh, man, we don't want to go into this land. Man, the people that live there, they're gigantic, they're huge, and we will lose. They have massive fortified cities. There's no way we can take this land".

See, their problem was they had a small God, and as a result, they had big problems. But the minority report, two spies that were sent in, named Bourne and Bond... not really, Joshua and Caleb. Joshua and Caleb saw it differently. They saw the same, thing but they said, "Oh, we can do this. God will be with us. We'll conquer this land". That's because they had a big God. When you have a big God, you have relatively small problems. When you have big problems, you have a relatively small God. God has not shrunk. It's your view of God. It's the way you see God. And so that report was given. Well, the people didn't want to believe the minority report. They didn't wanna listen to Joshua and Caleb; they went with what the majority said. And, as a result, said, "None of you people are gonna enter into the Promised Land, not one of you, except Joshua and Caleb". So now fast forward, all these years later, that first generation of Israelites, they're gone, and all that's left are Joshua and Caleb. So Joshua, who has led them into the Promised Land, is now giving out parcels of land to the people.

Bringing me to point number two, to have spiritual longevity and to finish well, you don't follow the crowd. For 40 years, Caleb had to listen to the complaining of the other people. And he put up with it, and he didn't capitulate, he didn't cave in, he stood his ground. And, if you wanna be a strong Christian and have spiritual longevity, you've gotta stand your ground because people will try to drag you down, people will try to pull you away. You've got to stand on your own two feet in your own faith in your relationship with the Lord.

Someone sums it up so beautifully. Blessed or happy is the man or the woman that does not walk in the council of the ungodly or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scornful. Sorry to point to you when I'm saying that, but it just fits all of you, honestly. But his delight, it goes on to say, is in the Word of the Lord, and in it does he meditate day and night. I see you on this side much more that way. I'm joking... But, you know, he doesn't do certain things. He doesn't walk in the council of the ungodly or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scornful. But instead he meditates and he studies, he contemplates God's Word. So he did not capitulate to the crowd. He followed the Lord, not the crowd.

Point number three, to have spiritual longevity, you need to take God at his word. You need to take God at his word. You see, Caleb hung on to the promise of God to him for all those years. And five years go by, and 10 years go by, and another 10 years go by, and another 10 years, 40 years. He's still waiting. Have you ever struggled with God's promise to you? You thought, "Well, God, you promised these things to me, and I don't see them happening". Are you in a storm right now, with no end in sight? Are you in a trial, that you're wondering, "Is this ever going to come to an end"?

One time the disciples were going across the Sea of Galilee, and a great storm came, and they thought they were gonna die. And suddenly Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. But it's worth noting that Jesus came to them, the Bible says, "in the fourth watch". When is the fourth watch? That's the time just before dawn, which means they had been struggling against this storm for nine long hours. They had probably given up hope. And then who shows up walking on the water but Jesus himself? And he may come to you in the fourth watch, like, "Lord, are you ever gonna come"? He says, "Yeah, I'll come when I'm ready. And when you're ready. Maybe when you're completely exhausted. Maybe when you've stopped struggling. Maybe when you stop fighting with me and you just call out and say, 'God, if you don't come through for me, I'm gonna drown.'" The Lord's saying, "Oh, that's what I was waiting to hear. Let's go". And he will be there for you and come through to you or come through for you in your storm.

Number four, to have spiritual longevity, you need to fight to the very end. To have spiritual longevity, you need to fight to the very end, as the Christian life is one of constant growth and learning, taking on new challenges, looking for new opportunities. It's not living in the past, but changing the present and preparing for the future. It never stops, though. Now, some people say, "Well, I'm retired". Okay, that's nice. You no longer do the job you've done for so many years, but you never retire from the spiritual life. You know that, right? Because the moment you retire is the moment you're gonna start losing. It's a moment you're gonna start being defeated. There was an old man who had been walking with the Lord for many years. So, a young men came up to him and said, "Old man, I have a question for you". He says, "Yes"? And he said, "My question is, is there ever a moment that I will reach where I will get past temptation when I will no longer be tempted"? The old man said, "Yes, when you're dead".

Okay, so, that's it. It's gonna rage to the last moment of your life on Earth. After 45 years of patiently waiting, Caleb makes a statement in verse 11, "I am as strong this day as the day that Moses sent me". He never grew weaker. And what did he do with that strength? We read in Joshua 15:14, "Caleb drove out the three sons of Anok from there," and it identifies their name. He went to an area called Hebron. Hebron was a treacherous area, it was a tough area, and the inhabitants of Hebron were fierce warriors. Effectively, Caleb said, "Give me the toughest part of the land. That's where I wanna go. Give me this mountain"! I wonder if others laughed, sort of snickered, "Give him this mountain. Oh, yeah, give him this mountain. That's exactly what he wanted".

You know, we all have mountains to climb in life, and it may vary from person to person. Are we gonna run from it? Are we gonna run toward it? As people get older, as I said, sometimes they retire, they start kicking back, but that is not what you want to be doing. You want to run every day as though it were your last day because one day it will be. We think we'll live to be old, and maybe you will, and maybe you won't. That's up to God. The Bible says, "Our times are in his hands".

My son, Christopher, went to be with the Lord when he was 33 years old. We never planned for that. We never expected that. It changed our life. It was the hardest moment of our life. God was there for us, is still there for us. But it was a devastating, devastating loss for our entire family. And it reminded me of when I used to race Christopher. Christopher was a fast runner. He was a long distance runner. I was more of a short distance runner when I was in high school. I could sprint, but then I ran out of steam. Christopher could run forever. So sometimes we'd be walking along, maybe on the beach, and I'd say, "Christopher, I'll race you to that rock right there".

I always picked a mark that would favor me. Short sprint, I'm good, but then I tire out. "Let's race to the rock". And I would beat him every time, and I felt very good about that. I can still beat him in a race. He's a young man now, and I still beating him in a race. And, one day we're walking down the beach, I said, "Christopher, I'll race you to that rock". He said, "Okay, Dad," and, boom, we go, and he passes me and he wins. I was very depressed. He won the race, and he also beat me to heaven, and he's been there for many years now. And we'll see him again. And on his tombstone we wrote these words... and nobody ever wants to sit down and think about what you're going to write on the tombstone of your child. But we had to do it. And we wrote the words of Paul where he said, "I fought the good fight. I kept the faith. I finished the course".

He finished his course, and he's in heaven. And I bring this up because, some who are young think, "Well, I'll think about this when I'm older, Greg. You know, I don't need to do it. I'm young". Okay, yeah, you're young. But what if your race ends sooner than you expected? Well, listen to this. I believe very strongly, Jesus Christ is coming back again. What is happening, what is happening in our world is cause for great concern, and Bible students should pay careful attention to what is specifically happening in the Middle East. These events could escalate quickly into something far larger, and it could end up being a fulfillment of what the Bible says will happen in the end times. The prophetic events are a lot like dominoes that are closely stacked together, and once the first domino falls, then the others will fall in rapid succession.

So, my understanding of Bible prophecy, which is perfect, I'm kidding. But I think it's right, you know, of course. But, my understanding of Bible prophecy, I think the next event on the prophetic calendar is the rapture of the church. After that, we have the emergence of Antichrist. Sometime after that perhaps we have the attack of Magog against Israel. Then we have the tribulation period. Then we have the abomination of the desolation; the rebuilt temple of the Jews is defiled. Then we have the battle of Armageddon. Then we have the Second Coming. Then we have the Millennium. All these events kind of tightly placed together, but the first domino has not fallen yet, but it could happen at any moment. And the Lord would call us home.

So, coming back to that quote from Richard Baxter, let me adapt it to this. Don't be doing anything you would be ashamed to be doing if Christ were to come back. So, whatever you're doing, factor that in. "Well, is he okay if we have lunch"? He's cool with that. Have lunch, enjoy. "Is he okay if we, like, watch Netflix"? Depends on what you watch. I don't know. No, but seriously, think about the Lord as you make your choices in life, and as you make decisions, you're gonna live life, you're gonna enjoy life. But at the same time, you're right with God. Wholeheartedly follow the Lord, your God. That's what I'm saying to you. Don't follow him half-heartedly. I mentioned earlier that one of the signs of the end times... actually, I didn't mention this, so I'll mention it now.

One of the signs of the last times, the Bible says, 1 Timothy 4:1, "In the last days, some will fall from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and the doctrines of demons". So we talk about all the signs of the times. This is one that is often neglected. There's gonna be an apostasy, which means a falling away. That will be a sign of the times. And that's one of the things that surprised me, I have to say. People that I have personally known, men and women of God, who fell away. But the good news is, if you fall away, you can still come back home to your Father. You can return to the Lord. The Bible says, "Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto our God who will abundantly pardon". You can return to your God.
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