Forgiven People Should Be Forgiving People

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

—1 John 1:9

A Sunday school teacher was talking to her class about forgiveness. She asked her students what a person needs to do to receive forgiveness from God. There was a moment of silence, and then a little boy raised his hand and said, “You have to sin.”

That is true. You have to sin. And all of us qualify. We sin more often than we realize. So yes, we have to ask God to forgive us. Most Christians understand that God graciously gives us His forgiveness, though we don’t deserve it. He tells us that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).

That is amazing. We understand that for the most part. But here is where it gets tricky for some. Forgiven people should be forgiving people. We have received the forgiveness of God, and therefore we should extend that same forgiveness to others—especially to those who have wronged us.

As C. S. Lewis wrote, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” Isn’t that true? Forgiveness is great in theory, but it is much harder in practice.

I read about a study that was done on the topic of forgiveness. It revealed that 75 percent of those surveyed believed God had forgiven them for past sins, but only 52 percent had forgiven others. We have a problem.

The Scriptures say that if we ask God to forgive us, then we should forgive others. Life is filled with hurt and disappointments. We have people who hurt us. And guess what? There are people we have hurt as well. We need to learn how to apologize, and we need to learn how to forgive.

Some might say, “Wait a second, Greg. You don’t know what people have done to me. You don’t know what I’ve had to face in life. It’s unforgivable.”

No, I don’t know. But this is what the Bible says. And here is the most important reason we should forgive people who have hurt us: God commands us to. I don’t think we need any other reason, but there are a few others.

The Bible tells us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you,” and “bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13 NIV).

Failure to forgive others also can bring your prayer life to a screeching halt. Jesus said, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25 NIV).

The bottom line is that forgiven people should be forgiving people.


Pastor Greg Laurie


Worthy of Worship

“When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

—Matthew 2:10–11

The wise men, these followers of the stars, met the Lord Jesus Christ who created the stars. They were occultists, yet God reached into their dark world with a star to bring them to their Creator.

Matthew’s gospel tells us, “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (2:11).

Everyone worships at Christmas. There are no exceptions to this. Christians worship. Atheists worship. Skeptics worship. Republicans worship. Democrats worship. Independents worship. Everyone worships at Christmas, but not everyone worships God at Christmas. Some worship material things, which they never seem to have enough of. Others worship their bodies. Others worship their families. But everyone worships something or someone.

The wise men worshiped Jesus. And what does it mean to worship? Our modern word worship comes from the old English word worthship. We worship the One who is worthy. A god of our own making isn’t worthy of our worship, but the true God is worthy of our praise.

Two words often are used in the Scriptures to define worship. One word means to bow down and do homage, which speaks of reverence and respect. The other means to kiss toward, which speaks of intimacy and friendship. So when we put these two words together, we get an idea of what worship actually is. To worship is to bow down and have reverence, and it is also to have tender intimacy.

Jesus was born, He died, and He rose from the dead so that you and I could come into a relationship with Him and become God’s adopted children. Simply put, we should worship the Lord because He deserves it—every day of the year.


Pastor Greg Laurie


Come and See!

“Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?”

—John 4:29

There is a lot of power in the simplicity of a changed life. After Jesus spoke with the woman at the well in Samaria, she immediately went out and began to tell others. The Bible tells us that she “left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?’ ” (John 4:28–29).

Her testimony was so powerful that people believed as a result. The passage goes on to say, “Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, ‘He told me everything I ever did!’ ” (verse 39). That is the power of a changed life.

When the Jewish leaders questioned the man whom Jesus healed, he replied, “I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” (John 9:25).

It’s so important when you can share the before and after of what God has done for you. Maybe people would never imagine that you used to be what you were or that you used to do what you once did, because you have been so transformed by Jesus Christ. And when you share that story, it can speak to them in a special way.

It is interesting how often the apostle Paul, who was a brilliant orator, a great communicator, and a wonderful intellect, would use his testimony to speak to people. When he was speaking before the Roman governor in Acts 24, he began with his own story of how he came to faith. Then he went to the essential core message of the gospel.

Your testimony, your story, is a way to begin building a bridge. It’s a bridge to get to the bigger story, which is Jesus.
Pastor Greg Laurie


Right Where You Are

Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

—Luke 10:2

It seems, unfortunately, that the church could be compared to a giant football game where 60,000 people in the stands watch 22 people do all the work. We stand on the sidelines and shout, “Go, team, go!” while God is saying, “I want you down on the field. I want you to carry the ball. I want you to be a part of what I’m doing.”

Jesus said, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2). Notice that Jesus did not say that we should pray the Lord would send out more observers—or more spectators or more complainers. Rather, He said we should pray the Lord would send out more laborers.

No one can honestly pray for this work to be done if they are not willing to do it themselves. Let’s not sit around and say, “Yes, God, send more laborers into the harvest!” Instead, let’s say, “Lord, let it start with me. I will be a laborer. I don’t know what I can do. I don’t know what I can offer. I don’t have a lot. But it’s Yours, Lord. I give it to You.”

Just watch what God can do. He can do a lot with a little. He can take what you have and multiply it.

Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s the job of the professionals. Let the preachers do this preaching stuff. I’m just an ordinary person.”

There are many people you can reach far more effectively. You can reach them because they know you. They work with you. They live next to you. You are able to speak to them like perhaps no other person could. God has given you a group of people whom you can influence. God wants to use you right where you are.
Pastor Greg Laurie

Nothing Quite Like It

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

—Matthew 18:20

I think Christians have the best songs of any religion on earth. The Christian faith is a singing faith, which is not necessarily true of other religions. They may chant, and they may moan. They may have their various forms of music. But there is no faith that is as full of vibrant, joyful singing as Christianity.

When we come together with God’s people in corporate worship, something wonderful happens. God manifests His presence in a unique way when His people come to honor His name. As Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

God is omnipresent, which means that He is everywhere. In a technical sense, He is as present with us when we’re driving as He is when we’re in a church service. On the other hand, when we gather with other believers and lift up His name in praise together, God blesses in a special way. He manifests His presence and even His glory. There is nothing in the world like worship. It is a sense of fulfillment as we do what we were created to do, which is to glorify God.

The Bible tells us in Revelation 15, “And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (verses 2–3). We will be singing in Heaven. So let’s start on Earth.

The Spirit-filled church will be a worshiping church. And the Spirit-filled Christian will be a worshiping Christian.
Pastor Greg Laurie

The Scalpel of the Holy Spirit

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

—Acts 2:37

Peter was going for broke. Standing with the Eleven on the Day of Pentecost, he said to the crowd, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

Talk about taking a risk. They could have killed Peter for saying that. I wonder if Peter thought, “Okay, maybe I cowered before the opinion of someone I didn’t even know by that fire in the courtyard, but those days are gone. I have new power now. I have the Holy Spirit permeating my life. And I’m going to tell the truth.”

To show you that his message was the right one, look at their reaction: “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” (verse 37). This could be translated, “They were pierced to the heart.” This phrase appears only here in the New Testament, and it means “to pierce” or “stab.” Thus, it depicts something sudden and unexpected. It was the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

We all have been stabbed in the back, but have you ever been stabbed in the heart? It’s when someone says something to you that isn’t easy to hear. The reason it hurt is because they were right. It feels like a horrible thing, but it is a good thing. Don’t think of it as a sword killing you; think of it as a scalpel in the hand of a surgeon who’s saving your life and cutting the cancer out.

At Pentecost, the people were stabbed in the heart by the scalpel of the Holy Spirit. There was a sense inside that they needed to get right with God.
By Pastor Greg Laurie

The Secret to Spiritual Growth

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

—John 15:5

A Sunday school teacher wanted her first grade class to know about the different types of sin that could be committed, so she asked her students, “Does anyone know what the sins of commission are?”

A little girl said, “That is when you do something your mom tells you not to do.”

“Very good. That’s exactly right. Does anyone know what the sins of omission are?”

A little boy frantically waved his hand. He said, “Those are the sins you are supposed to commit but you haven’t gotten around to them yet.”

That is how a lot of Christians act today. They think it is only a matter of time until they commit certain sins or fall prey to certain sins. But according to the Bible, sin can and should be resisted. We don’t have to be victims to it. We cannot only resist sin as a Christian, but we can grow stronger spiritually every day. However, we can’t do it in our own strength.

Jesus said the secret to spiritual growth is in abiding: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). He said, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit” (verse 5).

Jesus was talking about a vine that would produce grapes. We need to sink our roots deep into a relationship with Christ. Abiding speaks of a continuing commitment. It’s producing fruit. It’s walking with God on an ongoing basis. Abiding takes time . . . and lots of it.

If you want to grow spiritually, if you want to be able to resist temptation, if you want to live a life that is pleasing to God, then you must abide in Christ.
Pastor Greg Laurie

A Permanent Reminder

Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself.”

—Luke 24:39

What did the resurrected body of Jesus look like?  The Bible tells us that after Jesus’ cruel torture, crucifixion, and three days in the tomb, He was recognizable, and that His followers knew who He was.

We know that He had a body of flesh and bone.  Jesus told the disciples, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself.  Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39).

We also know that Jesus ate food.  Imagine the surprise of the disciples when the risen Lord appeared to them and then said, “Have you any food here?”

“What?” they must have been thinking.  But they gave Jesus a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb, and He ate it (see Luke 24:41–43).

His resurrected body also could be touched and felt.  When the women were returning from the empty tomb, “Behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Rejoice!’  So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him” (Matthew 28:9).

Then, when Jesus appeared to the disciples in the Upper Room, He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side.  Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27).

This tells us that in His resurrected body, Jesus still wore the marks of the Crucifixion.  And He will wear those marks, even in eternity (see Zechariah 12:10).

I think this is to remind us of how we got to be His.  We will not be in Heaven because of our good works.  We will be there because of His shed blood, because spikes were driven through His hands and feet for us.
Pastor Greg Laurie

How Sin Affects Your Prayer Life

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.

—Psalm 66:18

Habitual sin in the life of a Christian can bring his or her prayer life to a screeching halt. That is not to say we have to be sinless to pray. If that were the case, none of us could ever approach God. The Bible even says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). It also tells us that when we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (see 1 John 2:1).

The Bible makes allowances for sin in our lives and offers God’s mercy and forgiveness to us, but unconfessed sin certainly can hinder our prayers. The psalmist said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (66:18). Another way to translate the word regard would be “hold on to.” In other words, if we cling to iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us.

There is a difference between sin and willful sin. There is a difference between stumbling, being sorry for it, and turning from it, and continually, willfully, and habitually sinning. If you are sensing God’s conviction and know what you’re doing isn’t right, that is God’s Holy Spirit lovingly trying to wake you up and warn you of the perilous path you have put yourself on.

Hebrews 12:6 says, “Whom the Lord loves He chastens.” To loosely paraphrase, “Whom God really loves, He spanks.” Because He cares about you, He applies the “board of education” to your “seat of understanding.” Some of us need a trip behind God’s woodshed. When that happens, don’t recoil and complain that it’s unfair. Instead, rejoice that God loves you enough to deal with you as a father deals with his son or daughter.
By Pastor Greg Laurie

Why We Need Purpose

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

—Daniel 1:8

In Daniel 1 we read how King Nebuchadnezzar brought Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, into his court and tested their loyalty to God by offering them Babylonian delicacies. You can be sure it was some of the finest food on earth.

But Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego would not eat the food at the king’s table because for them, it was a compromise. It may be because the food was dedicated to pagan gods, or it may have been because some of it was forbidden under Mosaic Law, and they were Jews. Whatever the case, they were unwilling to compromise their principles.

Now that may seem like a little thing to us. They should have just eaten. When in Babylon, be like the Babylonians. Come on, don’t be so legalistic. Don’t be so fanatical. But it was important to them.

It was that commitment at an early age that gave them the moorings to face the challenges that came later in life. Had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego failed in this test, they would have never made it when it came time to bow before the king. They would have caved into pressure and bowed with everyone else before the golden idol that the king had erected. But they didn’t compromise because they were men of purpose, and they stood up when everyone bowed.

And had Daniel failed to pass this test, he would not have had the fortitude and grit to stand up, or in his case, to kneel and to pray to his God, even though a decree had been signed by the king that made it illegal.

These were men of purpose. Are you a man or a woman of purpose? Without purpose and direction in your life, you can throw it all away.
Pastor Greg Laurie

A Mob Mentality

Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

—Matthew 26:49

Some people question why Jesus would choose Judas to be His disciple, knowing that Judas would do what he did. If someone had to condemn Jesus, if it was written in the Scriptures that Jesus would be condemned by a friend, then why condemn Judas? Wasn’t he just a pawn?

Not at all. It’s important to realize that the Lord’s selection of Judas as one of the Twelve did not seal his fate. Rather, it gave him an opportunity to observe Jesus closely. As Judas properly concluded later, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4).

God, in His sovereignty, had determined that His Son would be betrayed by a friend. But divine foreknowledge does not destroy human responsibility or accountability. Judas made a decision freely and would be judged accordingly.

In that dramatic moment when Judas identified Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” (Matthew 26:50). Then we’re told, “They came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.”

The Bible says a multitude came to arrest Jesus, and this would have included the officers of the temple, who were granted limited powers by the Romans in matters concerning Jewish religion and society. They were moving together as a mob. That is so typical of the mob mentality. Many of the people who joined in on this probably had no idea of what they were doing or why.

The same is true today. To a large degree, a vast majority of people do not reject Christ because they have looked into it or because they have some honest questions about the Bible or Christianity. They reject Christ because they let others do their thinking for them. They mock because others mock. And they become willing victims of someone else’s prejudice.

Let Him Choose

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

—Matthew 26:39

When my sons were growing and one of them had a few dollars to spend, I would take him to the toy store. My son would look around, select a toy he wanted, and then ask me what I thought.

At that moment I would have a vision of his closet and all his broken toys. I knew the toy he was considering also would go that way. So I would tell him, “Well, buddy, I don’t think that’s a good toy to buy. I recommend you get something different.”

“But I want this one.”

“Why don’t you just wait and think about it.”

“Why don’t you choose for me, Dad?”

I loved it when my sons would say that. Of course, you know what I ended up doing. I usually ended up spending a little more money on them. I liked to get them great toys.

That is God’s attitude toward us, illustrated in a simplistic way. When we ask the Lord to choose for us, He will go above and beyond what we can ask or think. Many times we limit God through our unbelief. He wants to do more than we’re asking for. So don’t be afraid to say, “Not as I will, but as You will.”

D. L. Moody said, “Spread out your petition before God, and then say, ‘Thy will, not mine, be done.’ The sweetest lesson I have learned in God’s school is to let the Lord choose for me.”

We don’t always know the will of God in every situation. And then there are times when we know it but don’t like it. There are also times when we know the will of God but don’t understand it. However, we must never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
By, Pastor Greg Laurie

Do What You Can

She has done what she could and she has anointed my body for burial ahead of time.

—Mark 14:8

As I read the Bible, I can’t help but notice how little is said about the great empires in Jesus’ day. We would think there would be more in the Bible about the Caesars or the great conquests of Rome. But it’s interesting to me what God did.

In Matthew 26, we find a memorial we should never forget, an incredible, sacrificial thing someone did for Jesus: “Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head” (verses 6–7).

With His disciples watching in amazement, Mary broke open this expensive ointment and anointed Jesus’ head with complete abandon. It didn’t matter to her what their opinions were. All she knew was this was her Lord.

Did Mary fully comprehend what lay ahead? Did she realize Jesus would die on a cross? I’m not sure. But she seemed to know more than the rest of them. She seemed to recognize that He needed to be anointed for His burial. So she gave her all.

Many people today will give only what is required by God. They don’t want to go overboard. They don’t want to be extreme or fanatical, so they give God the bare minimum. Maybe this is one of the reasons we don’t see the work of God today on quite the same scale as they saw it back in the early church. As modeled by Mary, there was a complete abandon with these first-century disciples. They were willing to take risks. They were willing to do what they could.

Are you doing what you can today? It may not be a lot, but do what you can.
Pastor Greg Laurie
How Important Is Christmas To You?
So, how important is Christmas to you? Is it Christ or the mas (more)? Well, for me it is definitely Christ. But I can say that it has not always been that way. So here is a little test to see where you stand or actually should stand. Think back on all the Christmases you ever had. List every Christmas present you ever got. How many of those presents do you still have? Or even remember. Now list all the things Christ has done for you. Wow! That’s going to take a while. First on your list and everyone’s list is the gift of Christ himself. God gave His only begotten Son to everyone who will believe. That was over 2000 years ago! Do you remember? Of course you do. Christ was given and still gives freely to everyone. So is it Christ or more. For me it is more Christ. Christmas is all about the one gift. Gods gift. It is not about what you got or what you didn’t get. It’s about Christ. So before you open your presents and carve the turkey remember who offers you eternal life. Remember who gave His life to save you from your sins. Remember who won the victory over death. Remember, the King who left His throne to be born a baby in a manger, to live to die for you! Remember the importance of Christmas!
Merry Christmas, Robert

Forget Something?

He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

—Matthew 2:4

Imagine for a moment that you are living in first-century Israel. You hear mysterious visitors from the east speak of a star that has been leading them. Now, don’t you think it might be a good idea to make the short journey of about five miles from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to check it out?

Herod was right in expecting an answer from the chief priests and scribes as to where the Messiah would be born, and they interpreted the writings of Micah properly. Yet they should have known better.

These men were the theological scholars of their day and knew the Scriptures inside and out. It was their job to study the Scriptures and number the letters and lines to ensure careful copying. They knew the Scriptures so well, but they cared so little. They knew where the Messiah would be born, but they didn’t care about a baby king as much as an adult monarch who could line their pockets with gold. They were too busy to bother with Him.

Do you know one thing that can keep you from Christ more than anything else? It’s religious pride. When you say, “I already know that” or “I’ve already heard that,” it could actually dull your spiritual senses to the Word of God.

Sometimes when you hear the Word of God again and again, you can essentially enter into a place of complacency, a place of apathy. You might even find yourself asleep. I find it interesting that many of the Bible’s warnings about waking up are actually addressed to believers. Believers can be asleep like these religious scholars who missed out on that epic event.

Even at Christmas, with all our celebrating of the birth of Christ, we can forget about Christ and fail to give Him a passing thought.

You Have a Savior

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”

—Luke 2:10

When the angel delivered his heavenly announcement to the shepherds, he started with, “Do not be afraid.” But the shepherds, along with all of Israel, lived in frightening times. They were under the reign of King Herod, who was a tyrant. Their land was under Roman occupation. There was fear about the future. Would Rome ever leave? Would they ever be free? Would the Messiah ever come?

Then suddenly there were angels announcing to the shepherds that the Messiah had come: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10). Having angels appear was frightening in itself. Angels are awe-inspiring beings. That is why, when we read of angelic appearances in the Bible, we often see them starting with, “Fear not.”

The message of Christmas is fear not. Have joy. As commentator Ray Stedman said, “The chief mark of the Christian ought to be the absence of fear and the presence of joy.”

Yet it can be difficult for us to have joy because we are surrounded by sadness. With all the tragedies in the world, all the acts of terrorism, and all the problems we have, how can we have good tidings of great joy? The answer is this: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

No matter what happens in life, remember this: You have a Savior. As a Christian, you have been saved from death. You have been saved from eternal punishment and hell. You have the hope that when you die, you will go straight to heaven. That is the most important thing about the Christian life. There is a heaven waiting for you. You have a Savior.

For He Is Good

Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.

—Psalm 30:4

It seems as though merchants today don’t really know what to do with this holiday called Thanksgiving. When it comes to other observances, like Halloween, they make a lot of money from their marketing efforts. And of course, Christmas is a financial windfall. But Thanksgiving? Well, they sell more turkeys than they usually do. But they don’t really know what to do with this holiday, which is spiritual in its origins.

In 1863, President Lincoln designated November 26 as a day of national Thanksgiving. We celebrated it annually on that day until 1942, when President Franklin Roosevelt designated Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November.

And just so we aren’t fuzzy about which God we should give thanks to, this is what the pilgrims wrote in the Mayflower Compact, in 1620:

We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

     Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia. . . .

They were not just coming to our fair shores to simply bring European civilization; they were coming to bring the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s very easy during our feasting to forget about the One whom we are celebrating.
The primary reason we are put on this earth is to glorify God and to give Him thanks. Yet praise and worship are a sacrifice sometimes. The Bible doesn’t say, however, to give thanks to the Lord because we feel good. Rather, it says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” (1 Chronicles 16:34). He is worthy of our praise.

By Pastor Greg Laurie

Is Your Marriage Alive?

Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

—Ephesians 5:14–16

In Ephesians 5, Paul tells us to awake from spiritual lethargy. I want to apply these verses specifically to marriage today. 

You can’t sleepwalk through marriage. Show me a marriage that is strong and vibrant and thriving, and I will show you a marriage that people are giving attention to. 

It’s sort of like making a fire. You begin with some kindling and newspaper and twigs, and then add some logs to it. Once the fire is going, you put another log on it. And another. You continue to feed it over time. In the same way, if a marriage is strong, especially over a period of time, it is because the husband and wife keep putting logs on the fire. They cultivate their romance. They strengthen the marriage.

If you stop feeding the fire, it will start to weaken. You must constantly give it attention. You must be proactive, not merely reactive. When the husband neglects his role and the wife neglects hers, one problem turns into another, and soon it gets worse and worse. Eventually it reaches a state of crisis. 

It’s best to engage in “preventative maintenance” and strengthen the marriage every day. Verses 15 and 16 tell us how: by “walking circumspectly” and “redeeming the time.” To “walk circumspectly” conveys the idea of looking, examining, and investigating something with great care. It’s like the attention you would give to the words of a contract before signing it. “Redeeming the time” refers to making the most of every opportunity. 

Are you examining your marriage carefully, paying attention to detail? Are you taking advantage of every opportunity to strengthen your marriage? Are you making sure you have done everything you can do? 

Don’t sleepwalk through marriage; tend the fires to keep it alive and strong.
By Pastor Greg Laurie

Read Your Own Mail

Submitting to one another in the fear of God.  —Ephesians 5:21


Sometimes wives choke on the verse that says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” They might say, “I don’t want to submit to my husband or anybody else.” But before God tells wives to submit to their husbands, God tells both husbands and wives to submit to one another in the reverence of God. 

If you are a Spirit-filled person, you will be a submitting person.

Maybe when you think of submission, you equate it with some form of slavery. That is not what submission is in the Bible. Let me put it another way: If you are really filled with the Spirit, you will think of others over yourself. A Spirit-filled husband will put the needs of his wife above his own. A Spirit-filled wife will put the needs of her husband above her own. Both of them are putting the other in the first position. 

In military language, it means, “to rank beneath.” It is not about superiority or inferiority. It is about order. It is about sacrifice. It is about obedience. It is not about you; it is about your mate. You want to hold them up. You want to support them.

A successful marriage is not so much about finding the right person as it is about being the right person. 

It drives me crazy when I hear wives quote verses to their husbands about what he should be doing, or when the husband quotes verses to the wife about her role. Read your own verses and put them into practice.

Stop blaming your wife and instead be the best husband you can be. Stop blaming your husband and instead be the best wife you can be. Stop reading each other’s mail and just do what God tells you to do. You will be amazed at what will happen.

Our Ever-Present Shepherd

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

—Psalm 23:1

A favorite Scripture passage for many of us is Psalm 23, which begins: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul” (verses 1–3). We love that. It’s such a beautiful picture of us as sheep being led by our Shepherd.

But it isn’t a compliment when God compares us to sheep. Sheep are some of the dumbest animals on the face of the earth. If God had compared us to dolphins, that would have been great. Dolphins are super smart. If God had compared us to dogs, even that would have been a compliment. But God compared us to sheep.

Sheep are stupid. Sheep tend to run with the pack. Sheep have no defense mechanisms. Sheep can’t even escape from a predator. Sheep are basically leg of lamb in waiting—all that is needed is the mint jelly. It’s a done deal. Sheep need their shepherd. If the shepherd doesn’t come through for them, they are dead. We are like that too.

We love to read that the Lord is our Shepherd and that He makes us to lie down in green pastures and leads us beside the still waters. But Psalm 23 goes on to say, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (verse 4).

We love the green pastures and the still waters, but we don’t like valleys—especially if they have the word death

attached to them. Yet as David pointed out, the Lord is the Shepherd who was with him. And He is the Shepherd who is with us too.

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?


People are born for trouble as predictably as sparks fly upward from a fire.

—Job 5:7

There are times I just don’t know why God does or does not do certain things. I, like you, am mystified by a lot of it.

Listen, being a Christian does not mean you will not suffer. We may ask the question “Why me?” but we could more easily ask “Why not me?” 1 Peter 4:12 warns us, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (ESV). Our trials and sufferings should not be seen as strange, but should be expected.

Jesus Himself assured us that there will be suffering in our lives. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John16:33 NKJV).

Here is what we need to know: suffering will come. It’s not a matter of if but when and how much. We need to prepare for it.

If, as you are reading this, you are not experiencing any suffering or tragedy, I would say, “Rejoice, and enjoy it!” But know that hardship will come.

Here is the bottom line. You are either coming out of a storm or headed into another. “People are born for trouble as predictably as sparks fly upward from a fire” (Job 5:7 NLT). It’s just a matter of time. In this life, the only way to avoid suffering is to die. So, like the diligent squirrel gathering nuts for winter, store these truths in your heart.

In his book If God Is Good, Why?,Randy Alcorn says, “Most of us don’t give focused thought to evil and suffering until we experience them. This forces us to formulate perspective on the fly, at a time when our thinking is muddled and we’re exhausted and consumed by pressing issues. People who have ‘been there’ will attest that it’s far better to think through suffering in advance.”

Fruitful Hearers

“And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.”

—Luke 8:15

Once when I was on a flight returning to California, the captain announced he would have to make an emergency landing. The flight attendants went through the protocol, and I listened carefully. As we went into our descent, we were told to lean forward, grab our legs, and get ready. Thankfully we landed safely, and everything was okay.

When your life depends on something, you listen. That is how we should be as we listen to God’s Word. In the parable of the sower, Jesus talked about seeds that fell on good ground: “honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest” (Luke 8:15).

These are what I call fruitful hearers. Having heard God’s Word, they keep it. One key is how we listen. It is not just hearing the Word of God; it is keeping it. It is no light thing to constantly hear the Scriptures preached and taught. Jesus said in Luke 12:48, “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”

It is a great thing to read through the Bible. It is a great thing to read chapters of the Bible. But I would rather read eight verses with comprehension than eight chapters without it. Psalm 1 talks about those who “delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.” The word meditate means “to chew, to contemplate.”

Those who hear God’s Word are made more responsible than those who did not hear. God expects us to act on what we have heard. God expects us to obey His Word, not just hear it. Good ground is made that way by the work of the Gardener and by our cooperation.

By Pastor Greg Laurie

It Starts with God’s People

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

—2 Chronicles 7:14


We want God to heal our land, and we want our nation to change. But as we look at the problems in our country, we want to point at someone else a lot of times. We say the problems are due to Washington, DC, or Hollywood or the White House. But God says the source of the problems is His house, the church.

God lays out His prescription in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Notice God says, “If My people who are called by My name . . .” He doesn’t say a thing about secular culture. He talks to His own people. That is you. That is me. “If My people . . .”

I think one of the problems in our nation today is there are a lot of people running around who think they are Christians, but they really are not. In fact the Bible says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Or, as the J. B. Phillips New Testament puts it, “You should be looking at yourselves to make sure that you are really Christ’s.”

Then there are those who are living a double life. They put on a good performance at church. They say all the right things. But they are living a life that is completely contradictory to what the Bible says about how a Christian ought to live.

A spiritual awakening starts with God’s people. It starts with you and me.
By Pastor Greg Laurie

What We Can Learn from the Jesus Movement

I have heard all about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy.

—Habakkuk 3:2

I came to Christ in 1970 during the Jesus Movement, which gave me a front-row seat to the Fourth Great Awakening in the United States—the most recent in our nation. Looking back, I remember five things that were part of a typical church service during that time.

First, there was a sense of expectancy in the service. No one was ever late for church because you couldn’t find a seat if you were. You came expecting God to work. You came with a sense of openness, anticipating what the Lord was going to do.

Second, the Word of God was always taught. That gave stability to us. In fact, I still have my Bible from those days. I marked it up—so much so that some of the pages are coming out of it.

Third, people participated in the worship. We effectively saw what we simply know as worship now. In the late 1960s, there were no electric guitars, for the most part, on church stages. There were no drum kits. It was completely different culturally. Things we take for granted now didn’t exist back then. But people engaged in worship. They participated in it.

Fourth, believers brought nonbelievers to church, evangelistic invitations were extended, and people were coming to Christ. Every week there was the sense that God wants people to be saved.

Fifth, there was a belief in and a constant teaching of the imminent return of Christ. We believed that Jesus was coming back again.

The kids of the Jesus Movement are now grandparents. But just as in the 1960s, and specifically 1968, we have riots in the streets. We have racial unrest. We have a drug epidemic. There’s a sense of hopelessness in the air. We need another Jesus Movement. We need another spiritual awakening.
By Pastor Greg Laurie

The Reward in Resisting

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

—James 1:12

I heard about a pastor who was making a hospital visit and parked his car in a no-parking zone because he couldn’t find a parking space. He circled around multiple times, but finally he had to stop so he could go and see the person who had requested him. He decided to write a note and place it under his windshield wiper in case a police officer came along. The note said, “I have circled the block ten times. I have an appointment to keep.” Then, thinking of a Scripture verse, the pastor wrote, “Forgive us our trespasses.”

When he returned, he was surprised to find a ticket under the windshield wiper. At the bottom of the ticket, a note read, “I have circled this block for ten years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job.” The note ended with a Scripture quotation as well: “Lead us not into temptation.”

Everyone gets tempted, including ministers. No one enjoys being tempted. In fact, we probably would prefer that temptation didn’t exist at all. But the Bible says there is actually a blessing in getting through temptation. James 1:12 says, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

This verse tells us that temptation can be endured: “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.” There is no such thing as a temptation that is too hard to resist. God will allow only what you can handle (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).

It is hard to be tempted, but when you resist and get through it, that is a great victory. In fact, there is a reward waiting. There is a blessedness when you have come through times of temptation.
By Pastor Greg Laurie

America’s Only Hope

“Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?”

—Psalm 85:6

What is the future of the United States of America? Are we doomed to just go the way that so many other once-great nations have gone? Is America headed to the ash heap of history? Are our greatest days behind us, or could they still yet be ahead? Is there any hope for America?

No one can answer those questions with any certainty, but we know this much: America is not the superpower of the last days. The greatest nation on earth is conspicuous in her absence from the world stage in the end-times scenario given to us in the Bible. America is not the first, nor will it be the last, nation to rise and fall. Every nation’s days are numbered; America is no exception.

Rome was once the mightiest empire on the face of the earth. But she collapsed internally before she was conquered externally. We as a country can be diligent to guard against enemies on the outside, but we would be wise to look within.

Historian Will Durant, in his book on Rome’s history, Caesar and Christ, said, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. The essential causes of Rome’s decline lay in her people, her morals. . ..”

The difference between Rome and the U.S. is that we were founded on Judeo-Christian values. We’ve strayed from the original vision of our founding fathers, the vision that produced “America.”

What was once “freedom of religion” has now become “freedom from religion.” We have succeeded in getting God out of our schools, sporting events, public venues, and workplaces. Instead of Christmas, when we should focus on Jesus, we have Happy Holidays and Winter Solstice. Instead of Good Friday and Easter, we have Spring Break. It seems to me that America has gone out her way of late to turn from God. But America needs God’s intervention.

We saw many turn to the Lord after 9/11. Remember those prayer vigils on street corners and packed churches? Remember the members of Congress spontaneously singing “God Bless America”? These memories give me hope that there could be at least one more great revival in America’s future.

If we do not have revival, I do believe that judgment is inevitable. Peter Marshall, former chaplain to the U.S. Senate once said, “The choice before us is plain: Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration.”

God was able to turn the very wicked nation of Nineveh around in the days of Jonah. We know there have been some great spiritual awakenings in our history as well. Let’s pray that America will turn back to God in these last days.
Created To Know Him
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.

If you are seeking fulfillment, purpose, or meaning from this world and from human accomplishments, I have some bad news: you will never find it. There is nothing in the world that will fill the deepest void in your life—not the ultimate car, not the greatest job, not the most beautiful girl or the most handsome guy, not the greatest education, not winning it all on American Idol. There is nothing that can even come close.

King Solomon, one of the wealthiest men who ever lived, had everything he wanted. Yet he went on a binge, trying to satisfy his appetites with the wrong things. He went after passion. He went after possessions. He went after things of beauty and buildings and land. He drank, and he partied. After all of that, here was his conclusion: “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11, NLT).

Have you ever been ravenously hungry and tried to satisfy your appetite with snacking? It just doesn’t work. You want a real meal. In the same way, we were created with a God-shaped hole in our lives. We have been created to love God, to know God, and to bear fruit. Everything else is secondary.

Think about it: everything else in life, every other responsibility, no matter how significant, must be ordered behind the central purpose of your existence on earth—knowing, loving, and serving your Creator. Yes, God cares about your career, your marriage, your family, and your ministry. But knowing Him, prioritizing Him, is number one. And when you do, the Bible says you never will be a loser for it.

Jesus said it like this: “Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:32-33, NLT).

By Pastor Greg Laurie

When Does Temptation Generally Come?

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

—1 Peter 5:8

When does temptation generally come? Answer: Often after great times of blessing!

When Jesus began His public ministry, He went to be baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist. The Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove. The heavenly Father proudly said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Then temptation came. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted.

After the dove came the devil.

It usually works that way in our lives as well. After the blessing comes the trial. The two often go hand in hand. Don’t be surprised if temptation comes to you, for instance, right after God speaks to you in church or in a time of devotion.

Times of attack often come after mountaintop experiences. Jesus was on the mountaintop with Moses and Elijah. Once again God said, “This is my beloved Son; hear Him!” As they descended, a man with a demon-possessed child was waiting. Know this: whenever God speaks, the devil will be there to oppose. The enemy knows your guard may be down after God has spoken or blessed.

History tells us that when Hitler invaded the European nations during the early years of World War 2, in almost every situation, he attacked on a weekend. Hitler knew the various parliaments would not be in session, making it more difficult to react swiftly to an invasion.

The same happened to Israel on Yom Kipper 1973. On the Day of Atonement, a national holiday, the holiest day to the Jewish people, their enemies Egypt and Syria attacked.

In the same way, our enemy the devil waits for the opportune time to attack. He waits for that moment when we are the most vulnerable. It may be when we think we are the strongest.

We may have reached what we think are “great heights” in our spiritual life. We may feel that we would never fall to base temptation and sin. We may even boast of it to others.

Watch out, because you’re just painting a bull’s-eye on your chest. The Bible says, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12NKJV).
By Pastor Greg Laurie

Surrender at Gethsemane

Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”

—Mark 14:34

Have you ever felt lonely? Have you ever felt as though your friends and family had abandoned you? Have you ever felt like you were misunderstood? Have you ever had a hard time understanding or submitting to the will of God for your life?

If so, then you have an idea of what the Lord Jesus went through as He agonized at Gethsemane.

Hebrews tells us, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it” (4:15–16 NLT).

The Bible tells us that Jesus was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3 NLT). But the sorrow He experienced in Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion seemed to be the culmination of all the sorrow He had ever known and would accelerate to a climax the following day. The ultimate triumph that was to take place at Calvary was first accomplished beneath the gnarled old olive trees of Gethsemane.

It is interesting that the very word Gethsemane means “olive press.” Olives were pressed there to make oil, and truly, Jesus was being pressed from all sides that He might bring life to us. I don’t think we can even begin to fathom what He was going through.

But look at what it accomplished. It brought about your salvation and mine. Because of what Jesus went through at Gethsemane and ultimately at the cross, we can call upon His name. Though it was an unfathomably painful, horrific transition, it was necessary for the ultimate goal of what was accomplished.

Maybe you are at a crisis point in your life right now—a personal Gethsemane, if you will. You have your will; you know what you want. Yet you can sense that God’s will is different.

Would you let the Lord choose for you? Would you be willing to say, “Lord, I am submitting my will to Yours. Not my will, but Yours be done”? You will not regret making that decision.

The Courage to Try

We all have talents and gifts that God has given us. For Esther, a young Jewish woman living in the capital of the Persian empire, that gift was extraordinary beauty. Sometimes those who are the most beautiful or the most handsome also are the shallowest. But that certainly was not the case with Esther. She had a great inner life as well. She had inner character. She took what God had given her, and she used it. She also demonstrated great courage and intelligence in the face of adversity.

Some people are talented musically (and some people think they are talented musically). Some people are talented artists. Some people are good at crunching numbers. Other people are good at building things. Some are great visionaries but may not be so adept at the practical, while others are detail-oriented but not really big on vision.

Sometimes the way to discover what your gifts are is through the process of elimination. Walt Disney, a visionary himself, used to tell a story about a little boy who lived in a certain town. A circus arrived one day, and they were going to have a parade. The bandmaster needed someone to play the trombone, so the little boy volunteered. However, the boy hadn’t marched a block before the horrible racket coming from his horn caused two elderly ladies to faint and a horse to run away.

The agitated bandmaster asked the boy, “Why didn’t you tell me that you couldn’t play the trombone?”

“How did I know?” the boy answered. “I’ve never tried before!”

Sometimes you just have to give something a try. Whatever your gifts may be, find them. Discover them. Cultivate them. And then use them, because there is a place in the church for you. We all have something to do.

Don’t Keep Jesus In The Manger

When we look at Christmas, what do we see? Too often Christ is seen as a little tiny baby and that is it. That goes for a lot of Christians too. Basically many Christians are leaving the baby Jesus in the manger. “Oh, how cute. Look at the peace in the manger scene.” Yes, look at the peace. But way too many are missing the real point of Christmas. God sent His son. His only son. He was not simply sent to have Christmas. He was sent for a reason and that was to conquer sin once and for all. Well all who will believe and accept His perfect gift. Bottom line, Jesus came to die! Christmas is looked at as a time for peace, but Jesus didn’t come to make peace. He came to divide. Look at Luke 12:51. Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. That’s a bible truth that I think most overlook. Want another bible truth? Mary, the mother of Jesus, is held as one of the greatest women. She is even often worshiped. Even she did not miss the reason for Jesus’ arrival. In Luke 1:38 we read; Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. And Elizabeth her sister even declares Him Lord before He is born in Luke 1:43; But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

When we leave Christ in the manger not only do we miss the point, but others that come in contact with us miss the point. If we are not showing Christ for who he truly is then those who are around us may not see Him or worse, follow in your footsteps. Remember when I said He come to divide? Well, the line has been drawn. A fence has been placed between Heaven and Hell. You can only choose one side to be on. Jesus said that if you are not 100% for Me, then you are 100% against Me. In other words you can’t ride the fence. If you try you will fall. And when you fall, on one side it will be a cozy pillow to catch you and on the other side it will be a hard landing. Which do you think is going to be the side of Jesus? Well for me, by experience, Satan’s side is full of pillows to catch you. And all that is just temporary. There is no joy on Satan’s side.

So, this Christmas, when you are standing looking at the manger scenes, make a point to acknowledge that the tiny baby, is the God in the flesh, the Son of God, the Messiah, our Savior. He came to divide. He came to die so that He would claim victory over sin and death by His resurrection and that He tore the veil so that you and I could have a home with Christ in Heaven.

Merry Christmas,

Robert Prestwood