Greg Laurie — No Regrets

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Well, we're in John 12, as I said, and the title of the message is No Regrets. Okay, one last question, how many of you have heard of The Beatles? Raise your hand if you've heard of The Beatles. How many of you have never heard of The Beatles before? I'm talking about a band, not bugs, by the way. Years ago, in the 60s, when The Beatles were at the very peak of their popularity, John Lennon made a very controversial statement in an interview with a British publication, that was picked up by the American press, and it caused a lot of people to get very angry at this band from England. But here's what he said in the interview, "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that". Or he would have said it: Christianity will go, it will shrink. I needn't argue about that. Right, Paul? Yeah, that's right, John, that's exactly right, you know. Anyway, he says "I'm right, and I'll be proved right," and this is the big statement that got him in trouble, "We're more popular than Jesus now," speaking of The Beatles, "I don't know which'll go first, rock n' roll, or Christianity".

Dear John, who's more popular now? The Beatles have been long broken up, but Jesus, in a way, is more popular than ever. In fact, I read an interesting article in the news the other day with the headline, the popular Jesus is emerging. "It can be debated whether or not America is a Christian nation, but one thing is certain," according to author Stephen Prothero, "everybody loves Jesus, and it's not just the usual suspects. In addition to Christians, America has Hindus, Jews, Buddhists and Atheists who adore Jesus. This fascination with Jesus is the subject of two classes being taught at Vanderbilt University this semester. One is called 'Jesus in Popular Culture' and the other is called 'Jesus in Film.'" Prothero said "I'm pretty comfortable saying the United States is unique, this obsession with Jesus is unparalleled". Fascinating.

Time Magazine did a list of the 100 most significant figures in world history. And who do you think got the number one spot? Jesus. The most significant figure in human history. But by the way, this is nothing new. Jesus was popular in the first century as well, especially after He raised Lazarus from the dead. The name of Jesus was on everyone's lips. Wherever Christ went, crowds of people would press on Him. He would be thronged. Matthew 13 says, or rather, Matthew 12 says, "Large crowds gathered to Him, and He got into a boat and sat down, because a whole crowd was standing on the beach". You know, He had to get into a little floating pulpit, in effect, to get a little distance from the crowd.

We read over in Luke 12 that so many thousands of people gathered together to hear Jesus, they were stepping on each other. And then in John 12, the text before us, "a large crowd of the Jews learned that Christ was there, and they came not just for Jesus, but that they also might see Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead". So Jesus was very popular. But here's the problem, this popularity would be short-lived. And the same people that were singing His praises now would be shouting for His crucifixion in only days. That's because they never really understood His real mission. Even his own hand-picked disciples didn't fully get it until He died and rose again from the dead, with one exception.

And I would like to say it was Peter, James, and John, sort of the favored three that Christ would take with him on special occasions, but it wasn't. Nor was it any other of the disciples that Jesus hand picked. In fact, it wasn't a man at all. It was a woman. It was a woman who had greater insight spiritually than those who effectively spent every waking hour of their life with Jesus for some three extended years. Who was the woman that seemed to get what all the guys missed? Her name was Mary. By the way, there's a number of Marys in the Bible, nobody get confused. There's Mary, the mother of Jesus, there's Mary Magdalene, there's Mary of Mary and Martha, lots of Marys, okay? This is the Mary of Mary and Martha. They were sisters and their brother was Lazarus. And it's worth noting that every time we read of her, she is at the feet of Jesus.

So maybe that's why she had such great insight. On one occasion, when the Lord showed up at her house, I don't know if He would call first or text, probably not, since that technology didn't exist. He'd just show up. Hey guys, I just was in town, I brought 12 of my friends, is that okay? Can you make lunch? And Martha was such an amazing hostess, she would whip up these incredible meals for them, and Jesus really felt at home in the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. One time when he showed up, Martha was getting a little frustrated. I mean 12 people, counting Jesus, that's 13 actually. That's a lot of people to cook for, especially if you weren't prepared for it. But she needed a little help in the kitchen, but when she's frantically, you know, making the meal, she looks out there and there's Mary, her sister, sitting at the feet of Jesus, so Martha, in frustration, comes out really upset, and we read in Luke, chapter 10 that she demanded that her sister come help her. And Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, you're worried and upset about many things, but one thing is needed and Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her".

So Jesus is saying Martha, listen, appreciate the awesome food, but actually Mary is right being here. She has chosen that one thing that really matters, which actually is better. She seemed, Mary, that is, to grasp an essential truth that was largely missed by the others. And it was this. That Jesus had come to die. So she had a unique understanding as to who He was, and why He came, and because of this, she brought the most incredible, valuable gift she could. And Jesus was so moved by her sacrificial act that He commended her and said "This will be a memorial that will never be forgotten".

You know we're living in a time in our country right now where a lot of monuments are being torn down and people want certain monuments to stand. This is one monument that will never be torn down, it's memorialized in time by Jesus Himself. In fact, Jesus said wherever the gospel is preached, the story of what this woman has done will be told. So this was a big deal to Jesus, so it should be a big deal to us. And I find this fascinating. Jesus singles this story out, and we might not have done the same. 'Cause you know a lot of amazing history was happening during the life and ministry of Christ. Rome was at its absolutely zenith. Many very significant wars were fought at that particular time, but the Bible says very little about Rome. It says very little about Caesar. It says very little about much of what was going on, in fact, all it's there for is a backdrop to pinpoint these events in human time. We probably wouldn't even know who Caesar Augustus was if it wasn't for the Christmas Story. We wouldn't know who King Herod was if it wasn't for what is written in the Gospel of Matthew. We wouldn't know about Pontius Pilate the powerful Roman Governor, if he did not play a role in the death of Christ.

These people would be in the ash heap of history, and only history buffs would know about them. But we know of them because they played a role in the greatest story ever told. So this simply shows us that God sees things differently than we see them. So we look at things right now, world history happening before our eyes, and it looks really big and sometimes it looks really scary. God sees it differently. In fact, the Bible says that the nations to Him are a drop in the bucket. So what did this woman do that so impressed Jesus? Did she deliver an amazing sermon? No. Did she pray an incredible prayer of faith? Actually, no. In fact, what she did was not really very practical at all, in fact you could even say it was somewhat impractical, but it was very heartfelt.

So let's see what she did and why Jesus commended her. John 12, starting in verse 1. "Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus, the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus' honor". By the way, I'm reading form the New Living translation. "Martha served," as she usually did, "and Lazarus was among those who ate with Him. And Mary took a 12 ounce jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard, and she anointed the feet of Jesus with it, wiping his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray Him, said, 'This perfume was worth a year's wages. 'It could have been sold and the money could have been 'given to the poor.'"

I love John's commentary here. "It's not that he cared for the poor - he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples' money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, 'Leave her alone. She's done this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but me you will not always have.'" We'll stop there. Now, Mark's gospel brings a very important insight into this story. Speaking of the same event, Mark writes in Mark 14:8 "She has done what she could," so Christ is saying of this woman, "She has done what she could, she came beforehand to anoint my body for burial and assuredly I say to you wherever this gospel is preached to the whole world, what this woman has done will be told as a memorial to her". Very important. Wow, what a dinner this was.

Think about this, Jesus was there. That's really all that mattered. But now we have the resurrected Lazarus. This guy was dead. Imagine being invited over to a house for a dinner and meeting a guy who three days earlier had been dead. Would he be an interesting person to have a conversation with? Imagine what you'd ask him. So, uh, what's it like on the other side? What did you see over there? Was it scary? Was it awesome? What was it like when Jesus called you back from the dead? Tell me all about it. I'm sure there were a lot of questions. And so this room is abuzz with conversation, a lot is going on. And the reality is, is Jesus was pondering and thinking about what was ahead now. You know it's not always great to know everything, and Jesus did. Aren't you glad you don't know everything about everyone? Sometimes we think we do.

My granddaughter Ali came to me the other day, and she said, she's like five, she said, "Papa, I'm smarter than you". I said, okay. She says "I am, I'm smarter than you". I didn't even argue with her. Sometimes we feel that way in life. I know so many things. You know very little, actually, but in fact, Jesus knew everything because He was God among us and one of the attributes of God is omniscience, which means knowledge of all things. He knew what was gonna happen before it happened. Tdat's why Christ could predict the future in Matthew 24 in the Olivet discourse, and in other situations, speak so clearly of what was about to happen. For Christ, He knew the details of it, and He spoke of the details of it.

n fact, He would describe how the Son of Man, speaking of Himself, would be betrayed by one of His own, He would be delivered to the high priest and crucified by the Romans, and three days later He would rise again. He knew all of this. He knew He was gonna take the beating, and the whipping and the crucifixion. And worst of all, He knew He would bear all the sins of the world, and it was weighing heavily on Him this night. And I don't think anyone happened to notice, except Mary. She was watching Him. She was saying something is troubling the Lord. And I want to do something so extravagant, so amazing, that it will be a great blessing to Him, so she breaks open this box of expensive perfume, look at verse 3 again, a 12 ounce jar of expensive perfume, she annoints the feet of Jesus with it, wiping His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. There's a good possibility that this bottle of perfume was a family heirloom.

We find out later it was worth $25,000 to $30,000. Now it would make sense if she put a few drops on His feet, you know a little goes a long way. By the way, that's a good rule of thumb to know about cologne and perfume. A little goes a long way. You don't have to bathe in it. We don't want to smell you after you've left an hour later, as it is the case with some people, if they've been in a room or if they've been in a car, wherever it is they've been. So she took the whole bottle of expensive perfume and poured it on His feet. It was an act of complete devotion and adoration. Judas Iscariot, with calculator in hand, a man who knew the price of everything and the value of nothing, instantly calculates how much of a waste this was, as I said, $25,000 to $35,000. What a waste, Judas says, and he had a point.

You know, you can spend a lot of money on perfume today. I Googled it just to find out what expensive perfumes there were out there. I read one of the most expensive perfumes you can buy is called Shalini. I like that name, Shalini. Sounds very mysterious. It's composed of rare flowers, including 336 roses and over 10,000 flowers of jasmine. Wow, how do they get all of that in that little bottle? And celebrities really favor Shalini. And it costs $6,900 a bottle. Oh it gets much worse. There's Clive Christian's Imperial Majesty. This is a perfume, I'm not making this up, by the way. It's a combination of mandarin orange, Indian jasmine, white peach, lemon, and more. It'll set you back, get ready for it, $435,000 for a single bottle. But the most expensive perfume in the world is called Here Ya' Go, Sucker. No, I made that up. But it should be. It's actually called DKNY, Donna Karan Delicious Million Dollar Perfume.

That's even a stupid name. If you're gonna ask me to pay a million dollars, at least give me Shalini, or something like that. They actually call it what it is. It's the DKNY Delicious Million Dollar Perfume, apple, sandalwood, musk, vanilla, who stinkin' cares? Who's gonna buy this? Listen, I Googled this, 'cause I used to wear this cologne. You can buy a bottle of Jade East for $22.00. I was shocked to find Jade East still exists. How many of you have heard of Jade East? How many of you are wearing Jade East? Anybody? Nobody here? 'Cause we'd probably know if you were. Did someone raise their hand over here, did I miss it? I was getting to High Karate. It's funny you should mention that. I used to also wear that. That's $56, sir. High Karate. And Old Spice, much more affordable, 13 bucks. But this wasn't about perfume at all. This was about sacrifice. She brought the most valuable possession she owned and gave it to Jesus.

What's the most valuable possession you own? Let's say a hurricane was coming to California like they're coming right now hitting Florida and just hit Texas. Or maybe a fire. And you only had moments to remove from your house your most valuable items, what would you grab first? I've thought about this. What would I really grab? And honestly, I've thought I would grab probably things that my kids and grandkids made me. 'Cause I couldn't replace them. I would grab my wife. I want to say that first. I left that out. I'm not talking about humans, I'm talking about objects that I could not replace. You know, and so you stop and think about it. What is your most valuable physical possession right now? Like what thing do you have in your house, in your garage, in your pocket, on your wrist, on your finger. I don't know where it is, in a bank account, somewhere. What's the most valuable thing you have?

Okay, now, question number two. Would you be willing to give that to Jesus Christ? That's literally what this woman did. And Judas did not get it at all. Judas is typical of so many people today. Like dutiful Pharisees, they want to give only that which is required by God and preferably get by with the bare minimum. If they would be honest, their question would be what is the least I can do and still technically be a Christian? I've even heard it stated another way: how much can I get away with and still be saved? How many sins can I commit and still technically maintain my salvation and know that I'll go to heaven when I die? This is thin ice and dangerous ground to be treading upon. You don't ever want to think about the minimum you can give. You want to think about the privilege of the maximum you can give to God.

Someone might say well I go to church once a week, that should be good. Or better yet, once a month. So many things going on on Sundays. I'll read the Bible if I have time. I'm very busy, you know, I've gotta check my emails, check a few news sites, update my social media, feed the dog, do this and that. And if I get to it I'll read a little scripture. You know, I'll give in the offering if it occurs to me, let's see what change I have. There's a little lint. Can the church use some lint? Here ya' go. Kind of an afterthought, instead of coming prepared to give. The reality is some people will give more to a waitress in a restaurant than they will give to the work of God. At least a waitress gets 10%, I hope you give that much. Better yet, 15 or 20. I'll give 20%. Oh great, that's nice. Do you give 20% to God? Well what's the bare minimum? 10%? 10% of the gross or the net?

See, that's the way we think. We want to give the minimum, not the maximum. We'll pray if it occurs to us. If there's crisis, we'll pray a lot. But if there's no crisis, you know, yeah, if we get around to it. I'll sing the worship songs at church, but I don't really like it when they go too long. And if they start the hand lifting stuff it kinda makes me a little bit uncomfortable, these emotional outbursts. And then it even gets worse. You can find yourself one of these people, and then if that's not bad enough, you'll be critical of those that do more than you do. You're critical of them. Why do they do that? Did they really need to do that? Did they really need to go that far? Maybe that's one of the reasons we don't see the work of God in quite the same scale as the early church saw it in the first century, as recorded in the book of Acts.

As modeled by Mary, these first century believers had a sense of abandon about them. God would say to Philip, "Go to the desert and wait for further directions," and he'd do it. Got would tell Peter to take a disabled man by the hand and pull him to his feet, and Peter would go for it. They took risks, they bet the farm on stuff. God blessed them as a result. They were simply in love with Jesus and they were willing to give it a try. Yeah, but Greg, what if it fails? Hey I would rather try and fail in my attempt to bring glory to God than never try anything at all, and even worse, criticize others who try. You know, I have people periodically criticize me for how handsome I am. No that's not true. Actually, that's never happened in my life. No, they'll criticize me, and the fact that you laughed means you understood that was a joke immediately. Which in a way, your laughter was a form of insult, but I'm okay with that. No, they'll criticize our evangelism. Oh, we don't like your crusades, we don't like that you have this music, and we don't like this and we don't like that. The lights, we don't like it, we don't like it. Okay, whatever. What the heck are you doing? You know, I mean, that's my response. I mean maybe you don't like the way I'm doing it, well I don't like the way you're not doing it, and then criticizing someone who is doing it.

So I look at it that way. Do we do everything perfectly? Yes. No, we don't. But I'll tell you this, we're trying in our feeble way at times, to do everything we can to reach more people with the message of the gospel. That's why we take risks, that's why we go to stadiums, that's why we go to AT&T Stadium, that's why we're doing this crazy thing with this movie right now. You know, renting 900 theaters to show this documentary film that really, when it's all said and done is an evangelistic message. And I'm just using the life of a man who was very successful as a movie star, Steve McQueen, to tell the bigger story of Jesus Christ. And we even have an invitation at the end for people to come to Christ. So yeah, we're willing to take risks, we're willing to try these things. And we should all be that way. And that's the way Mary was. And that's the way the first century believers were. They were in love with Jesus.

It was said of them in Acts 4:13 "they had been with Jesus". We read there in Acts, "the members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John. They could see they were ordinary men who had no special training, but they recognized them as men who had been with Jesus". Can people tell you've been with Jesus? After church, I would hope they could tell. If we go to a restaurant afterwards, some people from our church, I hope they would say oh yeah, those are the Christians. Not because they're mean, not because they're loud and obnoxious or because they don't tip, but because they're caring people, they're loving people, they're having a lot of fun. They're talking about maybe what they heard at church, or talking about their faith.

And so that's a good thing. That's what it means to be with Jesus. But what is it that brought this love and sacrifice from Mary? The thing that moved her was Jesus Himself. She reasoned, there's nothing too good for Jesus. And this is the most valuable thing I own. And He's gonna go and die for my sin, and for the sins of everyone in this room. In fact He's gonna die for the sins of the world. In fact, everything Jesus has been saying, He has meant. He has said what He meant and He has meant what He said. I think the disciples were like, oh, He's talking mystically, what does He mean, He'll be crucified? And she realized, He's speaking literally. He's gonna literally be crucified. He's absolutely going to be betrayed. He really is gonna die and rise again, and I need to do something to say thank you in advance. And so she brought this bottle of perfume and broke it and poured it at His feet.

You know, when we lose a loved one, we'll bring tribute at their funeral. Some will buy bouquets of flowers, or a wreath of flowers, spend a lot of money, and that's all fine. But the loved one is not aware of that. I don't think we sit around and watch our funerals. And I think it's better to bring your flowers now, right? So if you know someone that's meant a lot to you, and I'm including your grandparents, and your mom and dad, or somebody that's touched your life, don't wait 'til they die to say it about them. Say it to them face to face right now. Write 'em a letter, novel idea there. Write a letter. Ink on paper, imagine such a thing! But the cool thing is, you can save a letter. You can save a card. They can read it over and over. But if you just can't go there, okay, send an email if you have to. Even a text, something. And just say I love you, I appreciate you. You mean a lot to me. Thank you for all that you've done for me, and we'll maybe see each other 1,000 more times, but I want to just say it right now.

So Mary thought I'm gonna say it right now. I'm gonna bring my flowers now. So she brought this incredible perfume. And that's why Jesus commended her and said "she chose what was better". So you say, that's a nice story, Greg. That's a long time ago, it doesn't really have any relevance to us today. But I think it does, actually, I think we can still sit at His feet. As we were just singing in our worship song about sitting at His feet. What does it mean today to sit at His feet? Well, what it means is, to spend time in the presence of God. Well isn't God everywhere? Yes, He is. But yet we also know that when two or more are gathered together in His name, He's there in the midst. Right? So we know that the Lord comes to us in a special way when we're in fellowship with other believers, so that's why church matters. We also know that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people.

So when we engage in corporate worship together, we can sense His presence with us. But we spend time worshiping and we spend time listening. I mean, Mary took time to listen to Jesus. Have you ever been saying something to someone and they're not paying attention? Let me restate the question, have you ever talked to someone who is holding a cell phone in their hand? You know, and everything's fine, you go, I want to tell you this. This is so important to me and I'm so glad you're listening, and they get a text. And you know they can't resist looking. It's just like endorphins release, text, text, text. And they're like mmm hmm, mmm hmm. And maybe they put it down below the table, you're in a restaurant, they're like mmm hmm, mmm hmm. That's very interesting. What are you doing? I'm not doing anything. You know, that's the way it is. They don't listen. And you say could you just put your phone down or put it on mute, or face down and give me your attention? The same is true of us when we come to hear from the Lord, right? Now we're in effect sitting at His feet.

So I hope that we give great attention to the word of God, and hear what it has to say, because I think when you sit at His feet, you'll be energized, to then serve Him. You know occasionally I hear people say I've just burned out of ministry. I just burned out. I had to just walk away, burned out. Just burned out. Look, I've been in ministry now for 43 years. I started when I was two. My first sermon, I wore a diaper, and my message was We Will All Be Changed. That's a true story. No, it isn't. But I've been doing this for a while. And I want to tell you something, I've never been burned out of ministry. Now I get tired in ministry, everyone does. Even Jesus got tired. And He said even to the disciples, hey, let's come aside for a while and rest, you guys. Have a meal, sleep, take care of yourselves, but I've never been tired of ministry. In fact, when I serve the Lord, I'm energized.

There are times when I've come out to speak and maybe it's been a long week or a long day, and I don't even feel like I'm fully prepared as I should be, but when I've come out and spoken, there've been times my spiritual tank has been almost on empty, and it ended on full. Because as I gave, the Lord gave to me, you see? And I think when you sit at His feet and spend time in His presence, you'll be energized to do the work of the Lord. Let me flip that around. If you're serving the Lord somehow and you don't have that passion and that commitment, maybe it's because you're not spending enough time sitting at His feet. It comes down... I saw one person wanted to clap, and I'm gonna let them clap, go ahead. Only that one person over there gets credit, 'cause they were the first, they wanted to and I let 'em clap and the others go, oh it's time to clap. It's okay, you all get credit. It comes down to this, if your intake is less than your output, then your upkeep will be your downfall. Let me say that again. If your intake is less than your output, your upkeep will be your downfall. You need to take in to give out. And if you're not taking in, you will not be able to effectively give out.

So Mary brings this amazing gift. Old Judas Iscariot, verse 4. "This is worth a year's wages and we could have sold it and given the money to the poor". And Mark's gospel, we read that the others were indignant, which means to feel pain and to grieve, or literally, to growl with displeasure. In a way it seems like a legit complaint, doesn't it? I mean is it practical to take something worth 35 grand and pour it on the feet of someone? I mean, really, you could've sold that and done a lot of good things with that money. But John gives us this insight in verse 6, "not because he cared for the poor - he was a thief, and he was in charge of the disciples' money, he often stole some for himself". But here's what's interesting, Judas said this right before he was about to go and betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Here's what I've discovered about people in the church. The ones who complain the most do the least. And the ones that do the most complain the least. The ones who complain the most, do the least. They just love to complain. I have the gift of criticism. That's not in the Bible. No, but I have it, I'm really good at criticism. And often if someone comes up and says I don't like the way you do this, or the way you don't do that, I say, why don't you help us out? What's your solution? I don't know. But I don't like it. Well, how about helping us solve it, and let's do a better job together? And sometimes the one who is the most critical is telling you more about themself than the one or the thing they're criticizing. In a way, they're kind of giving you a window into where they're at. Because the fact of the matter is, if you hear someone always harping on something, they're always critical of it in everyone else's life, sometimes the reason is is that's their issue.

That's their actual problem. And the reason they were harping on it is going back to the analogy of Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount, why is it that you're hassling your brother over a speck in his eye, when you have a telephone pole in yours? I'll tell you why, because you're so familiar with it you see it everywhere except in your own life. And so here's Judas, of all things, being critical of the sacrificial gift, when he himself was about to betray Christ for money. Judas didn't care for the poor, he cared about himself. And greed and selfishness motivated him to stay. And by the way, Judas Iscariot was never a true believer, in fact the Bible even tells us that Satan entered his heart. So it just shows us that things are not always as they seem. I mean here, at this moment, Mary appears to be wasteful and frivolous because of her gift, and Judas seems to be thrifty, considerate, and maybe even spiritual. But it was the very opposite. Mary was in fact spiritually perceptive and sacrificial. Judas was wicked and greedy.

It's a waste, said Judas. And yet in a few hours, Jesus would call Judas the son of perdition, which means the son of waste. How's that for a nickname? You know what, you're the son of waste. You're the son of poop, is what you are. That's what it means, sorry. Jesus said you're the son of waste. That's who you are. So the guy's saying waste, waste, Jesus says, talk about waste. You are the king of waste, in what you did and how you lived. So this woman did what she could, Mark 14:8. Commenting on the same story. Jesus said "She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint my body for burial". She has done what she could. In the same way, the more we know of what He did for us will cause us to want to do more for Him. Listen to this, nothing is ever wasted when it's done with the right motive for the glory of God. Look, you can't do everything, nor can I. But we can all do something. I can't win all the people in the world to Christ, but I can win some. As it has been said, "I'm only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do, and what I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do". Right?

So we all need to do what we can do when we can do it. What a waste, some will say. A young person gives up a promising career and says I want to go into the mission field. They say what a stupid decision. That incredible degree that you earned and that job offer you have and you're gonna go in the mission field, that is a complete waste. Someone else, a Christian, will say I'm not gonna do those things I used to do with my friends. I'm gonna give up those parties and those so-called pleasures, because they dull me spiritually. Oh man, you're missing out! Are you crazy? What are you gonna do, go to church more? As a matter of fact, yeah. That's a waste, they'll say. Or maybe you'll say I'm gonna be faithful to my spouse for our lifetime together. I'm actually gonna honor those vows for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. I'm gonna avoid those temptations to go astray.

Someone will say oh, you missed out, you could be on your third marriage by now. Yeah, I know. I kinda like my first one. Or someone might give to the work of God, financially. I'm gonna write a significant check that is sacrificial for me, because I believe in this ministry, I believe in what this work is doing. That's a waste! You could've bought yourself more things. But it isn't a waste when it's done with a right motive for the glory of God, because here's the bottom line. If you choose to live for yourself and do whatever you want with your life, one day God will say what a waste. I'd rather people say it's a waste than have God say what a waste. God would look at my life and say man, you just threw it all away. You could've done so much. I gave you so many opportunities. And you know you just threw it away.

The story is told of a man, and I'll close with this, named William Borden. Maybe you've heard of him. He was heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, and even as a young man, he was already a millionaire. And in our economy he would be a millionaire many times over. So as a graduation present, Borden's parents game him a trip around the world. So as Borden was traveling first class and staying in the most luxurious hotels and seeing all that was out there in the world, his heart was moved very deeply as he traveled to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, and found a burden growing in his heart for people that did not know Christ. And so he wrote back to his parents and said I believe God is calling me to go on the mission field. And after that decision, Borden wrote these words in his Bible, "No reserves". Upon graduation from seminary, turning down many high-paying job offers, Borden began his ministry or at least to prepare a little bit more, he needed to learn Arabic because he felt called to speak to Muslims who did not know the Lord.

So he wrote after that first phrase, "No reserves," the words "No retreat". So now it's "No reserves, no retreat". So now he's finished his studies and he heads out to the mission field and he stops to study Arabic and within a month he came down with spinal meningitis, and 25-year-old William Borden was dead. Wow. And so they came to claim his body and bury him. And they found his Bible. And they found he had written one more phrase. He had written, "No reserves," then he put "No regrets". No regrets. You say well that's a waste. No it isn't. 'Cause in his heart, he wanted to do what God wanted him to do. Was he ever able to do it? No I guess he wasn't, but you know what? His heart was in the right place. And I think we should all be able to look back on our life and say no regrets. No regrets. Oh, make mistakes here and there. We do things we shouldn't have done, but I'm talking about big picture now. Big picture stuff. I should've ordered a burrito supreme instead of the double decker taco. Fix it next time. I should've worn a green shirt instead of a blue shirt. Yeah, whatever, who cares? No but in the big picture you've made the right decisions for Christ.

Even the fact that you said I'm going to a mid-week Bible study, I'm gonna go to church tonight. That's a good decision and I think we all want to look back on life and say no reserves, no retreat, no regrets. A life is never wasted when it's invested in bringing people to Jesus, nor is it wasted when it's lived for the glory of God. 'Cause here's the bottom line. I was made to know God. That's what it's all about. I was made to know God. That's why none of the things this world offers really satisfy. I mean they might bring temporal pleasure and a certain fun, but it's short-lived. You know, that euphoria you get after you get that thing you've been wanting to get for so long, and then, eh, you kinda get used to it and you move on. Or this relationship was so exciting at first, and now it's not as exciting. Or whatever it is you think's gonna ring your bell, it always comes up short, because you were made for another world. You were made for more. It's fine to enjoy the things this world can offer if they're proper things, not sinful things, but ultimately what you're longing for is God. And when you bring God pleasure, you'll find yourself having the most fun ever in life. You know, you'll find the joy that comes from serving the Lord.

So I close by asking you, do you know God in a personal way? I've been talking about knowing Jesus, and I mentioned that Jesus came to die. You know why He came to die? Why couldn't He have just gone on to greater heights and just ascended to heaven and skipped the whole crucifixion part? Because we've all sinned against God, and because we've all broken God's commandments, and because we're all separated from God, so Jesus did on the cross to pay for our sin so we wouldn't have to. Jesus died on the cross for our sin so we could be forgiven and have a relationship with Him. And that is why Jesus and Jesus alone is the only way to the Father. Because only Jesus was uniquely qualified to satisfy God's righteous demands.

Only Jesus could know what it's like to walk in our shoes because He was literally a man that walked this earth. And that's why He bridged the gap between a perfect God and imperfect humanity. And really if I want my sin forgiven, and if I want to know that I'll go to heaven when I die, I need to ask Jesus to forgive me of my sin, and invite Him into my life. And He'll come, and become my friend, He'll become my savior, He'll become my Lord, He will be my God. But I have to say, Lord, come in. He won't force His way into my life. He stands at the door and knocks, and He says if we'll hear His voice and open the door, He'll come in. So I want to close with an opportunity for you to believe, and if you've never asked Jesus to come into your life, why don't you do it right now? Let's all pray.

Father, I pray for any person that has joined us, for anyone that's watching us or listening to this, wherever they might be. I pray that they will see their need for you and that they will come to you.

And while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed, and we're praying together, how many of you would say, Greg, I need Jesus in my life. I want my sin forgiven. I want to know that when I die I'll go to heaven. I want this big hole in my heart filled. I want to know what I'm here on this earth for. I want God in my life, pray for me. If that's your desire, if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life, forgive you of your sin, if you want to know that you will go to heaven when you die, would you just raise your hand up right now wherever you are and I'll pray for you. Just raise your hand up high where I can see it, saying I want Jesus Christ tonight, pray for me, God bless you, God bless you. Anybody else? Raise your hand. God bless you and you. Yes, raise your hand up if you would, please. Let me pray for you. God bless you. God bless you and you.

Anybody else? There in the back, God bless you, too. You want His forgiveness, you want a fresh start in life, a new beginning in life, you've done a lot of wrong things you're ashamed of, but you want God to forgive you and give you a fresh start. That can happen for you tonight, but you must reach out to him and say, Lord, I need you. Anybody else? Raise your hand up, let me pray for you. This is gonna be a life-changing night for you. God bless you, God bless you. God bless you in the front here. Amazing. Anybody else? God bless you. While our heads are still bowed, maybe some of you would say I need to come back to Jesus, I know it's right, and I started out well, but I'm kinda messed up. But I need to recommit my life to Christ tonight, pray for me. If that's your desire, you need to make that recommitment, let me pray for you. In the back there, God bless you.

Anybody else, you need to make that recommitment to Christ, let me pray for you wherever you are. God bless you. All right, now I'm gonna ask that every one of you who's raised your hand, I want you to stand up and I'm gonna lead you in a prayer. You heard me right, stand to your feet and I'm gonna lead you in a prayer. All of you that raised your hand, stand up. If you did not raise your hand, but you want to make this commitment or re-commitment to Christ, stand up and we're gonna pray together. Many are standing, by the way, so you won't be alone, others are standing. And if you need to, you stand. Even if you didn't raise your hand, you say I want to get right with God tonight. I want to know that I go to heaven when I die, I need to make a recommitment to Jesus, stand up.

Anybody else, and we'll pray together? I'll wait another moment. Anybody else, stand up. God bless you that are standing, just remain standing if you would, please. I'll wait one more moment, anybody else? You want to make this commitment or recommitment to Jesus? God bless you. All right. God bless all of you. All right now as I pray, I want you to pray this prayer out loud after me. Again, as I pray, you pray this prayer right where you're standing, out loud, okay? So pray this after me now:

Lord Jesus, I know I'm a sinner, but I know you're the savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. Jesus, come into my life. Be my savior, be my Lord, be my friend. I choose to follow you, Lord, from this night forward. Thank you for calling me and accepting me and forgiving me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

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