Greg Laurie - Show Me the Way
Hello everybody. How many of you brought your Bible? If you have a Bible I want you to hold up the Bible. I want you to stand up and hold up the Bible. If you have an app on your phone that counts. If you have an app on your tablet device that counts. Hold up your Bible. We stand with the Word of God here at the SoCal Harvest. We're not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. You know if you were to sum up the Bible in one verse, I think it would be John 3:16. I bet most of you know that by heart. Let's all say it together. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life". That's right here in the Bible.
Well listen if you brought a Bible, in a few moments I'm going to read from acts chapter 8. If you don't know where that is that's right after acts chapter 7. I hope that helps a little bit. But again, the title of my message is show me the way. Billy graham used to tell the story of when he was in a town holding a crusade. So he had a letter he wanted to mail, but he didn't know where the post office was. So he saw a boy and he said, "Son, can you tell me where the post office is? I need directions". So the little guy told him how to get to the post office and billy said, "Thank you very much. But listen, I'm preaching here in your town tonight and I'm going to tell people how to get to heaven, and I would like you to come tonight and hear me preach". And the little guy said, "Well, I don't think I'm going to come". And billy graham said, "Why"? He said, "You don't even know the way to the post office. How can you tell me how to get to heaven"?
I want to tell you tonight how to get to heaven. The Bible, the user's manual of life, tells us exactly what we need to do. Let's say that you called me and needed directions to Angel's Stadium. My first question to you would be well, where are you at? Where are you at? Why? Before I can tell you how to get here, I need to know where you are. And God asked that very question of Adam in the garden after he ate of the forbidden fruit and sin entered the world and Adam was hiding. And the Bible tells us that the Lord came walking through the garden in the cool of the day and he asked this question: "Adam, where are you"?
Now, do you think the Lord knew where Adam was? Of course he did. It's like when I play hide and seek with my grandkids. I always can find them because they go back to the same hiding places again and again. God knows everything about us. We can't hide anything from God. The reason God asked Adam "Where are you" was not because God was unaware of his whereabouts. He was really asking Adam to answer the question as in where are you. Well, Adam, you ate of the forbidden fruit. How did that go? Happy with the way things turned out? And I think the Lord could ask the same question of you tonight. Where are you? How is your life going? Is this the way you hoped it would turn out? Are you disappointed? Are you wondering if you've missed the whole point of what life is all about?
I want to look tonight at the life of a man who lived 2000 years ago, but his story could've happened 20 minutes ago. He was very successful. He had everything this world has to offer. He had money. He had power. He had fame. He even had religion, but he was empty inside and he was searching. He looked like he had it together on the outside, but he didn't. He was empty on the inside. Maybe you're a visitor here tonight and you came with a friend and you're checking this out and you're looking at all the people seated around you and you're thinking to yourself "You know these Christians, they're very weak people. They're the kind of like a lot of losers and they're very weak and this whole thing they're into this Christianity, it's just a big crutch. They need religion. It's a crutch".
Listen folks, this is not about religion here tonight. This is about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and not only that, listen Christianity is not a crutch. It's a whole hospital, and I need all the help I can get. So I used to have a tough exterior. It was due in part to the way I've been raised. I was cynical as a kid. When I was 17 I felt like I was 70 because I'd seen things no young man should ever see being raised by my alcoholic mother who was married and divorced seven times and the crazy lifestyle that she lived. So I had this tough façade, and I remember I would hang around down in Newport Beach and lean against a wall and look cool. I'd have my hair hanging in my eyes. Use your imagination on that. I used to have a really cool surfer wave, by the way. It was the best. It kind of came down like this. I'd do this all the time, all the time.
Now the wave is gone and I just have beach. It's really sad. But at least I'm not wearing a lame hair piece right? How many of you are wearing bad hair pieces? Raise your hand. No, don't. But I had this tough guy façade and I remember the Christians would come down to where we were and they'd had out their little booklets to people and I would look at them and I would say, "Come talk to me". I wouldn't say it, but in my heart I was saying it. And they would kind of look at me and kind of buy into my act. Oh, don't talk to that guy. He doesn't want to hear it. And they'd walk on, but I wanted to hear the truth. I needed someone to show me the way. They would give me these little booklets to read and I'd grab them out of their hands like I didn't care and shove them in my pocket. But I'd go back home and I took all of these little religious booklets that were given to me by every religious group imaginable and I put them in a drawer. It was like my God drawer. Every now and then I'd pull the drawer out and I'd empty it on my bed and here I am a 17-year-old kid trying to figure out the meaning of life, what all of these things mean. I needed someone to show me the way.
I want to do that for you tonight. It's very simple. God tells us how we can have a relationship with him because you need to know this: even the most beautiful, famous and wealthy people have to eventually face their own mortality. Look, we don't probably know each other. I know some of you but not most of you, but I know a few things about you already. I know that everyone deep down inside is empty. You're empty. All humanity is crying for something. More specifically, someone. Pascal said, "There's a God-shape vacuum in every life that only God can fill". That's true.
One of the best known rappers out there recently posted on Instagram and he's made millions of dollars and has experienced great success. He said, "No one knows what I deal with day to day. The average man wouldn't hesitate to blow his brains out... What's on the surface looks like one big party, but" he says, "Inside there's a little boy looking for help and guidance". Everyone is empty.
Number two: everyone is lonely. Do you know the top words that people type in the search engines late at night on Google? Three words: porn, lonely, and suicide. How tragic is that? Porn, lonely, and suicide. You can be in a crowded room, you can be at a big party and feel all alone. Lady Gaga said to a friend through tears, "I'm alone every night. All these people will leave, right? They'll leave and I'll be alone and I'll go from everyone touching me all day to total silence". You know you might have a lot of people that follow you on social media, but you may be effectively living two lives: one online and one off. Studies show that makes us more vulnerable to depression and loneliness. Everyone is empty, everyone is lonely, and everyone is guilty.
You know what I'm talking about. You feel guilty because, well, you're guilty. You've done things you shouldn't have done. You've sinned against God and you feel bad about it. By the way, it's not a bad thing when you feel guilt. That's an indication that your conscience is actually working. The Bible warns of having your conscience seared as with a hot iron. See, if you can go out and do things that God tells you not to do and not feel any pains of conscience that's not a good thing, my friend, that's a bad thing.
I heard about a guy that went to see a doctor. He had two severely burned ears. The doctor said, "Wow, I've never seen this before. How did you burn your ear"? He says, "Well, I was ironing and somebody called and I answered the iron instead of the phone". Wow, okay that explains how you burned one ear. How did you burn the other ear? The guy said, "Well, they called back". But your heart can be seared like that. You don't want that to happen. Everyone is lonely. Everyone is empty. Everyone is guilty, and listen, everybody is afraid to die.
Years ago we held a crusade in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There was a man named earl who was born in Turkey raised in a muslim home. And earl rebelled against his father and moved to America, married a girl, divorced her. His life was going downhill. He was using a lot of drugs and one night earl decided to take his own life. So he went to his bank account, got all of his money out, and he was on his way to his drug dealer to spend all of his money on drugs and he was going to overdose. And as he's on his way to the drug dealer's house, he turned on the radio looking for some kind of moody dark music to listen to as he was on his way to take his life. And he came upon a Christian radio station and he heard a Christian song and he thought "Wow, I kind of like that song". And then the person on the radio, announcer said, "And that band is playing at the Harvest Crusade tonight at the pit".
Now, the pit is a large auditorium there in New Mexico and just as the announcer said that, earl looked out the window of his car and he was driving right by the pit. So he pulled his car over, he got out, he walked into an event just like this, the band was just finishing, he heard a song or two, then I got up to speak and earl went forward and gave his life to Jesus Christ that night. He made a very good decision.
Well, anyway there's this guy in our story. The Bible tells us that he was a very important man. He was a V.I.P. He was a government official. He was over the treasury like the secretary of the treasury of the Kingdom of Ethiopia which was a powerful kingdom at this time. He worked right under the queen, so this guy was not finding what he was looking for in the religions of his culture and he heard that there was the city of Jerusalem. The home of the Jewish people, the people that had a relationship with God. So he went to Jerusalem searching for God and he didn't find God in Jerusalem.
Sadly, at that point the Judaism of the day had become a lot of rituals and regulations and he didn't find what he was searching for but he did obtain a copy of the Bible. Basically the scroll of Isaiah, one of the books of the Bible. They didn't have Bibles like this back in those days. So this was hand-lettered the scroll of Isaiah. So he's in his chariot and he's riding through the desert with his entourage, probably had a stretch chariot, secret service guy with sunglasses running alongside of him, flags of his country on the chariot and he's reading out loud from Isaiah 53.
Meanwhile, God directed a guy named Philip to go hang out in the desert and wait for this man. Philip didn't know what was coming, and he sees this guy riding toward him reading out loud from Isaiah 53 and so Philip looks up to him and wonders does this guy even know what he's reading? And the Bible says in acts 8 verse 30, "Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, 'do you understand what you are reading?' The man replied, 'how can I, unless someone instructs me?' And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
The passage of scripture he had been reading was this: he was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a Lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth". This man from Ethiopia asked Philip, "Tell me, who was the prophet talking about? Is he talking about himself or someone else"? And beginning from that scripture, the Bible says Philip told him the good news about Jesus. You see that man from Ethiopia knew the Bible was important. Maybe that's why they wanted us to take it off billboards. They don't even like the image of someone holding up the Bible because even the nonbeliever knows there's power in the message of this book.
Sometimes people don't know what to make of it. Like okay, I know the book is important, but really, what is the message of the book? We need someone show, they need someone to show them the way and that's exactly what Philip did. He told him how to have this relationship with God. He was reading a passage about a land before the shearers not protesting. He says, "What is this about"? This verse is about Jesus Christ. See, Jesus Christ called the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world voluntarily came down from heaven on a rescue mission to save us here on planet earth. Jesus, who was the very Son of God, fully God and fully man was born in a little manger in Bethlehem and then he grew into a man. He walked this earth for 33 years. He breathed our air, he lived our life, then he died our death and he rose again.
When Jesus was nailed to the cross, he didn't go against his will. He willingly went. Jesus said "No man has greater love than this that he lay down his life for his friends". Christ laid his life down for us. He died for us voluntarily because there was no other way to satisfy God's righteous demands. And so Philip explained that to this guy and the guy said, "I want to believe in Jesus right now". And so that man believed in Jesus and he even got baptized right there on the spot. Listen to this, how long does it take to become a Christian? Sometimes people say, "I'm in the process of converting to Christianity". In the process? Listen, becoming a Christian doesn't take years. It doesn't take months. It doesn't even take hours. It can happen just like that. You can put your faith in Christ and be forgiven of your sin in just moments and it can happen for you tonight.
It can happen for you tonight just like it happened for that man. And the Bible tell us that that man from Ethiopia went on his way rejoicing. Religion did not do that for him. Religion disappointed him. I'm not here proclaiming religion to you tonight folks. I'm here proclaiming Jesus to you tonight, and there's a big difference between the two. My message is not politics. It's the Prince of Peace. It's not Christianity. It's Christ himself. It's not rules and regulations. It's real freedom from the power of sin. It's not religion. It's relationship. And you can leave here tonight rejoicing just like the man from Ethiopia, but you need to do is you have to believe. You have to believe in Jesus Christ. Maybe you have it all together on the outside.
I read a story in the paper about a beautiful Ivy League student. She was a star athlete, a popular girl. Her name was Madison she was 19 years old. Her Instagram underscored her image. Lots of friends, parties, track meets, but she was keenly aware of the fact that she had an online life and then her real life. Her mom was looking at the photos on her Instagram page and said, "Oh, Madison, you look like you're so happy at this party". And Madison said, "Mom, it's just a picture". And the last photo that Madison posted was of a tree strung with lights glowing against the twilight and then tragically she left to her death from the ninth floor of a parking garage.
Oh my, we don't want to see anyone end their life like that. You look like its all right on the outside, but inside you're hurting. Inside you're empty. Inside you're lonely. And Jesus Christ has everything you're looking for right now, if you'll just put your faith in him and believe in him. You can have your life changed in a moment just like this man from Ethiopia. Would you like to do that? Only you can do this. I can't do it for you. The person who may have brought you here tonight can't do it for you. Your parents can't do it for you.
Listen, God has no grandchildren only sons and daughters and the way you become a child of God is by receiving Christ into your life. So you need to say, "Lord, come into my heart, come into my life and forgive me of my sin". And then you must do it publicly. Jesus said, "If you will confess me before people, I'll confess you before the Father and the angels in heaven". But then he said, "If you deny me before people, I'll deny you before the Father and the angels". It's something you do publicly. Come on the field and make a public profession to follow Jesus Christ.
Hey everyone thanks for watching our program. Today. Let me just say to you if you have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life to be your personal Savior and Lord you can do it right now. So if you would please, pray this prayer after me. You might even pray it out loud. Let's pray. Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. But you died on the cross for my sin and shed your blood for all the wrongs I have done. I am sorry for my sin. I turn from it now. I ask you to come into my life and be my Savior and my Lord. Be my God and be my friend. Thank you for loving me and accepting me and forgiving me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.