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Greg Laurie - Stand Your Ground


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I think we would all agree in pointing out that the church is under attack in every way imaginable right now. Both literally as well as figuratively. I mean we are still reeling from this horrific attack in Charleston in the Ame church where nine brothers and sisters of ours were worshipping the Lord and a coldhearted gunman came in and shot them all down. But then we have also seen an amazing display of forgiveness as those folks were being interviewed. Or actually those folks had an opportunity to interact with this killer. They told him they forgave him. I mean to me that was an incredible demonstration of Christianity to forgive him for the horrible act he had done. That is amazing. That church is still meeting. They have gone back to that same space. They had another midweek Bible study last Wednesday. They said, "No one is taking this from us. This is God's space". I love that about the folks back there. God bless them.

The church is under attack around the world. We have our Christian brothers and sisters being slaughtered today in the Middle East. Because they are followers of Jesus Christ. ISIS and other terrorist organizations behead them. They crucify them. It goes on. Then we look at our own country and we see persecution is getting stronger here as well. You need to know that this is a sign of the times. The Bible told us that persecution would be one of the marks. One of the signs we should look for to alert us to the fact that Christ is coming back again. In Matthew 24 that we have been looking at together. In verse 9 Jesus says, "You will be arrested, persecuted, and killed, and you will be hated over all of the world because you are my followers".

Everybody is going to face persecution in some way, shape, or form. Really what does the word persecution mean? It means to hunt down somebody. It may show itself physically. But it can show itself verbally. We have all faced it in some way. People have laughed at you. They have mocked you. They have ostracized you. You were terminated from your job. You were ridiculed in a classroom or some other way persecution showed itself to you. If that has happened to you, here is what I want to say to you today. Congratulations. Jesus said, "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake". Rejoice. This is a badge of honor the believer should have.

In fact the Bible tells us, "All that live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution". That is a promise we rarely claim. We love to claim a lot of other promises for provision and blessing and protection. When is the last time you said, "Now Lord you have told me in your word in 2 Timothy 3, 'all that live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.' Bring it on". We don't pray that. Who wants to be persecuted? Yet who does it happen to? Those who live godly. We could turn it around and say if you are not being persecuted in any way, shape, or form are you living godly?

Now we have the supreme court who has decided for same sex marriage. Needless to say I am very disappointed by this decision. It is clearly the wrong decision. The supreme court has invalidated the marriage laws of more than half the states and ordered the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis for human society for literally thousands of years. Now they were not unanimous in this decision. A bare majority won 5 to 4. Chief justice John Roberts even said after this decree was reached, "Just who do we think we are? To blind yourself to history is both prideful and unwise. People of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they received from the majority today". That is true.

Ultimately this is a bigger story than traditional values or cultural values or even Western Civilization. We are talking about biblical truth being challenged. As Christians we stand on what the Bible says on the topic of marriage and every other topic as well. This is the Word of God. We believe it. We just sang it. I believe in God the Father. I believe Christ his Son. I believe in the Holy Spirit. My God is three in one. I believe in the resurrection. That we will rise again. I believe. In addition to that we believe the Word of God. We believe every bit of it is inspired and given to us by God himself.

Some will hear us talk about marriage and say, "Why would you not want someone else to get married? What does it matter to you"? Let me respond to that and say first of all that we believe that God created marriage. It precedes all civilizations. It precedes culture. It precedes everything. God brought a man and a woman together there in the Garden of Eden. God himself effectively performed the first wedding. The first miracle I might add that Jesus performed during his earthly ministry was at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee showing his endorsement on it. Jesus was very clear what the purpose and objective of marriage is. He said in Mark 10, "God made them male and female from the beginning of creation. This explains why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one let no man split apart what God has joined together".

This special union only will happen between a man and a woman. It won't happen between people of the same sex. It won't happen for people who are living outside of marriage. It happens when you commit yourself in this special bond to one another before the Lord. A oneness takes place the Bible tells us. And ultimately children may come. In fact Malachi 2:15 says, "Didn't the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? "godly children from your union. "So guard yourself and remain loyal to the wife of your youth". So we stand on what scripture says. Understand the things that are happening in our culture today might be frightening at times. But consider this. Just as it seems things are coming apart in another way they are coming together.

Let me say that again. Just as it seems in some ways things are coming apart in other ways they are coming together. You say, "What do you mean by that"? I mean Bible prophesies are being fulfilled before our very eyes. So what should we do in light of all that is happening around us right now? I have a few thoughts. You might want to right these down.

1. Don't panic. God is still on the throne. As my friend Russell Moore said, "The supreme court can do many things, but the supreme cannot get Jesus back in that tomb. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is still calling the universe toward his kingdom". Listen to this. The fact is the church often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. Think about what the first century church faced. They were living in the most pagan culture imaginable. They could not get out and register and vote for who the next Caesar would be. It is not as though they could get out there and live out their lives openly as they wanted to as followers of Jesus. They were persecuted. They were hunted down. They lived in the backdrop of cultures like Athens and Corinth and others that worshiped false Gods. Immorality was rampant. Yet in relatively short order the church turned their world upside down. How did they accomplish this? Not through protests, boycotts, or Marches. The first century Christians outlived, out loved, out prayed, and out gave the nonbelievers. God is in control.

2. We need to remember that Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible. Grab your Bible. Right now turn to Romans 8:28. Just turn there really quick. Hurry. Is anyone there yet? OK. Who got there first? Sir is Romans 8:28 still in your Bible? OK. Anybody else get there yet? Who got there? Is Romans 8:28 still there? Is it there still? It is still in the Bible. And it is still true. What does Romans 8:28 say? Let's say it together out loud. "For we know that all things work together for good to those". This is the problem of multiple translations here. We know that all things work together for good to those who are called by God according to his purposes. I kind of just did a bad paraphrase of Romans 8:28. All things are working together for good for those who are loving God and are the called according to his purposes. Even something like this ruling can ultimately in God's sovereign will work together for our good and his glory. You say, "But how"? Remember Joseph said to his brothers who betrayed him, "You intended to harm me. God intended it for good". Psalm 119:91 says, "Your regulations remain true to this day for everything serves your plans". Psalm 76:10 says, "Human defiance only enhances your glory. You will use it as a weapon". God is in control.

3. We need to show this culture what a biblical marriage looks like. Here is another reason why marriage is a big deal to God. Of all of the pictures, all of the illustrations, he could have chosen to illustrate his love for the church and his churches love for him, he chose marriage. Jesus could have said, "Hey look at the flowers. Look at the trees. Look at the ocean". Whatever it is he wanted to point to. He says, "Look at how that Christian man, that christian husband loves his wife. That is how I love the church. Watch that guy. You see that Christian woman. The way she loves her husband and respects him. That is how my church loves me". He says to the man, "Love your wife as Christ loves the church". He says to the woman, "Submit unto your husband and respect your husband as unto the Lord".

We need to show this culture what a Christian marriage should look like. It is also interesting that in the final chapter of Revelation the church is pictured as a bride. My point is your marriage should be a testimony and example to a nonbelieving world. Nonbelievers should be able to look at your marriage and see a reflection of the love of Christ for us. That is why when we break our marriages up as followers of Jesus with no biblical basis and we divorce each other or when we commit adultery and we don't honor our vows what a bad testimony that is. We talk about those that want to redefine marriage. How about us living out our marriage in the right way. Let's start there. Let's make sure we are doing the best job that we can possibly do. This is a representation of God's love for us.

I know you say in your marriage you have irreconcilable differences. Oh give me a stinking break. Are you serious? Irreconcilable differences. I have had irreconcilable differences with my wife for 41 years. I have. I think we will always have differences. You know what? They are irreconcilable. She is very neat. I am pretty messy. She is sometimes late. I am usually early. She likes to watch programs on television as long as the people have British accents. I like shoot 'em ups. She is cute and I am fat. It is irreconcilable. But you understand my point. We love each other. There are going to be differences. Listen. If you are having problems in your marriage, forgive and move forward. That is what you need to do. Keep it together keep it strong. That is a testimony. Show them what a Christian marriage looks like.

4. We need to show the love of Christ to everyone. We need to meet them where they are and engage with the Gospel. God loves everyone no matter what they have done. He loves the person who is living or identifying as a homosexual. Now I have never seen any evidence to confirm to me that a person is born gay. But clearly people struggle with same sex attraction. I had a conversation with a young man after church recently. He told me this was his struggle. He had given into that struggle before. What did he do? I said, "Well just because you have same sex attraction that doesn't mean that you are gay. That just means that is what you are tempted with".

The point is you want to resist those temptations. Just like I would be attracted to a member of the opposite sex I don't want to act on that either. Unless it is my wife. But apart from that God has given us these parameters for our own protection. Listen. The Gospel does not define us by our temptations but by the righteousness of Christ. We are not against any particular group. We welcome all people. We love all people. We want to reach them. Now sometimes Christians will say. Let me restate that. Sometimes well-meaning but misguided Christians will say, "We should just love and accept and it is OK. Didn't Jesus say, 'judge not lest you be judged?'" hold on now. Yeah he did say that. But do you understand what he is saying? When Jesus says, "Judge not lest you be judged" he is not saying I should never render an evaluation about anyone or anything. In that same line of thought in the sermon on the mount Jesus went on to say, "Don't cast your pearls before swine or give that which is holy to a dog".

What? Doesn't that require me to make an evaluation to determine who the swine might be? In other words Jesus is saying don't take the holy things of God and offer them to a person who has no interest in them whatsoever. Who would the dog be? Do I have to look for someone with a flea collar? No. Here is what he is saying. Evaluate and tell people the truth. We are to speak the truth in love. Now when Jesus says, "Judge not lest you be judged" the better translation would be, "Condemn not lest you be condemned". Don't turn a person away because of their sin. Remember the woman caught in the act of adultery. What did Jesus do? He drove away her accusers. Then he said to her, "Woman where are your accusers"? She said, "I have none". He said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more".

Wasn't that a judgment of sorts? Yes it was. He is saying what you have been doing is wrong. Stop doing it. So when we say we should love that doesn't mean condone and accept. It means love and engage. The Bible also says we should speak the truth in love. We should love someone enough to tell them what the Bible says. Yes we should love all people.

5. We need to engage all people with the Gospel. Because everyone is searching. Some disillusioned may think they are going to find fulfillment with a member of the opposite sex. Others think they may find fulfillment with members of the same sex. Deep down everyone is searching for a relationship with God. It may seem like certain people can never change. But no one is beyond the reach of God. There was no more notorious sinner in the days of the first century than Saul of Tarsus. Say his name and it would send shivers down the believer's backbones. But God got hold of him and transformed him. In fact it was so unexpected a lot of the believers didn't even believe it at first. God can change anyone.

I received a wonderful letter from a young lady who wrote me not too long ago. I will just read it to you. It is a little long but I think you will think it is worth hearing. She says:

I was raised in a very abusive home. My parents were both abusive, depressed, and angry people. They admittedly took their frustrations out on me the first of two children. My mother rejected me on the basis that I wasn't the type of daughter she had always dreamed of. My father never wanted children. He neglected me and my needs. For 18 years I had no real concept of love and I lived a tortuous life of anxiety, depression, anger, and hopelessness. At that pivotal age I decided based on my feelings and the reactions of others that I was not only a homosexual but really a male born in a female body. Although I had no desire to change my physical gender I did assimilate as a male in society.

For ten years I engaged in multiple homosexual relationships. I was 22 years old and in an abusive relationship with a woman 10 years my senior. She lived in Orange County and I lived in the Inland Empire. I didn't have a car at the time so I would take multiple busses to be able to spend long weekends at her home. Here is where you entered the picture Greg. During those two to three hour bus rides I would Listen to a small handheld radio with earbuds. Reception was very static so I spent most of my journey searching for a clear signal. KWVE was one of the only stations that came in clear. So I began to listen to your messages. I found such positivity in them that I would hide my face under my ball cap and cry. These journeys went on for about a year. I would listen on my way to visit my partner hopeful that we would have a loving positive visit. I would listen on my way back home.

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