Share This Episode
A New Beginning Greg Laurie Logo

The Parable of Spiritual Growth: The Best Comes from God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
February 10, 2021 3:00 am

The Parable of Spiritual Growth: The Best Comes from God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 2115 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.


February 10, 2021 3:00 am

Everyday, there are hundreds of decisions. The healthy breakfast or the quick one with all the bad stuff in it. Read your on-line Bible or check out your Facebook news feed. Listen to the zany radio station and hope they keep it clean this time, or tune in a good Bible study. Glad you made the choice you did! Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out those decisions can help strengthen our spiritual foundation or erode it. Today, good encouragement about those choices.

View and subscribe to Pastor Greg’s weekly notes.

---

Learn more and subscribe to Harvest updates at harvest.org.

A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

Support the show: https://harvest.org/donate/

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
What's Right What's Left
Pastor Ernie Sanders
Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts
Breaking Barriers
Andrew Hopper | Mercy Hill Church
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
A New Beginning
Greg Laurie
Matt Slick Live!
Matt Slick

The following message from Pastor Greg Laurie is made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Hey, I want to hear from you. Would you consider emailing me? You can reach me at Greg at Harvest dot org.

Again, that's Greg at Harvest dot org, and you can also make me one of your friends on Facebook and drop me a comment. It's been said the second best is often the worst enemy of the best. Pastor Greg Laurie urges us to choose the best which comes from God, not the second best that often grabs for our attention. You can hardly wait to get done with reading the Bible so you can get to the fun stuff you really want to read. You can hardly wait for the church service to be over so you can go do the stuff you really want to do.

It's not that you're involved in bad things. It's just that everything is more interesting to you than spiritual things. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

Oh, can you hear when the angels are singing? This is the day, the day when life begins. Every day there are hundreds of decisions, the healthy breakfast or the quick one with all the bad stuff in it. Read your online Bible or check out your Facebook news feed. Listen to the zany radio station and hope they keep it clean this time or tune in a good Bible study. Glad you made the choice you did. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out those decisions can help strengthen our spiritual foundation or erode it. Today, good encouragement about those choices. This is the day, the day when life begins. Everyone is either progressing or regressing in the spiritual life.

You are either growing or you are not growing. You are either gaining ground and you are losing ground as a follower of Christ. Now sometimes the question is asked, why is it that some succeed, others just effectively crash and burn or others may slowly wither away? Well the answer is these are people who did not choose to take advantage of what God had given to them. We are told over in Deuteronomy 30 19 God says, I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you. I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life. I love this. It is like God says, I am going to give you a test and here is the answer.

I wish they would do that for us in school. Here is the answer so you will get an A. I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. By the way the answer is choose life God says. But I have to do that. And if I don't do that then I effectively choose death. There is God's part and there is my part.

You know an interesting passage. Philippians 2 12 says, Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Now that doesn't say work for your own salvation. Salvation is a gift of God to the man of the woman that puts her faith in Christ. But it does say work it out.

And it better be translated carry it to the goal and fully complete. As Saint Paul and Saint John once said, we can work it out. Those are the Beatles. Forget it. If you laughed you are old. Ok.

But anyway it was a song from years ago. Carry it to the goal and fully complete. But then the rest of that verse puts it all together. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that works in you both to will and the due of His good pleasure. So God is going to work through you but you have to carry it to the goal and complete it.

Alright. So that brings us to our text. A portion of Scripture we often call the parable of the sower. The Bible doesn't call it that. But it has been called that. So we will refer to it as such. I think you could just as easily call it the parable of the soils.

Because it is really about the different kinds of soil that the seed lands in. This is a story Jesus tells to explain to us why some press on in the Christian faith and others do not. So let's read it together. Luke chapter 8 starting in verse 4. And when a great multitude he gathered, they had come to him from every city, he spoke by a parable. Now a parable is an illustration. An earthly story with a heavenly meaning.

He spoke by a parable. A sower went out to sow a seed. Maybe as Jesus was speaking to the people there was a sower off in the distance casting his seed out.

He may have gestured. Look at that sower over there. A sower went out to sow his seed and as he sowed some fell on the wayside and it was trampled down and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock and as soon as it sprung up it withered away because of like moisture. Some fell among thorns or weeds and the weeds sprang up and choked it.

Others fell on good ground and yielded a crop a hundredfold. And when he said these things he that has ears to hear let him hear. So someone asked him the question, well what does this parable mean? And Jesus says, "'To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to the rest it is given in parables that seeing they may not see and hearing they may not understand.'" Now Christ goes on to explain the parable of the sower. It is very clear.

Here it is. The parable is this. The seed is the Word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear but then the devil comes and takes away the Word out of their hearts lest they should believe and be saved. The ones on the rock or the rocky soil are those who when they hear receive the Word with joy but they have no root. They believe for awhile but in time of temptation they fall away. The one that fell among thorns are those who when they have heard go out and they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life and they bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who having heard the Word with a noble and good heart keep it and bring forth fruit with patience. Or a better translation would be perseverance or endurance.

All right. So what does this mean to me? Basically you have four kinds of people. Your life is represented in one of these categories. Four types of soil if you will. And I want you to notice in this story only one out of four makes it.

Look at category number one. I am going to call them the highway hearers. The highway hearers. Look at verse 11 of Luke 8. The parable. It says to see this the Word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear it. And then the devil comes and takes away the Word out of their hearts lest they should believe and be saved. This is really a description of people that you may share the gospel with and they just don't respond.

2 Corinthians 4 is that Satan the god of this evil world has blinded the minds of those that don't believe so they are unable to see the glorious light of the gospel that is shining upon them. No matter what you say. No matter what clever arguments you use. They are just unaffected. Sometimes they are hostile. Sometimes they will scream at you and tell you to get out of their face. Other times they are very nice about it. No matter what you say.

Nothing seems to penetrate. It is sort of like water off of a duck's back. Now category number two. This one is really interesting and surprising. Look at verse 13. Those which when they have heard the Word, look at this, receive the Word with joy. But because they have no root for a while they believe and in time of temptation they fall away.

These folks are very different from the calloused, hardhearted, indifferent highway hearers. And when the invitation is given they respond. They walk forward. They pray the prayer and they are so fired up. They don't go out and just buy a Bible. They buy the biggest Bible you have ever seen. You know they start quoting Scripture. When you have a time of worship they sing louder than anybody else. They lift their hands higher than anybody else. They talk to everybody about their newfound faith.

And you say, that is the most amazing conversion I have ever seen. And this goes on for maybe a week or two weeks or maybe a month maybe even two months. And then you don't see them in church. Hey. I haven't seen you in church lately.

Where are you? I am not into that anymore. What? No. I am not into that. I don't believe it anymore. Wow. What happened to them? I will tell you what happened to them.

They are the seed sown on the rocky soil. And here is the problem with people like this. Because they will say to others, yeah I went through the whole Jesus freak phase. And you know it didn't work for me.

I was into it for a while but it just didn't work for me. Or they will say something like, oh I tried Christianity but it didn't really take with me. You know what? They never tried Christianity. Because Christianity isn't a product like toothpaste we use. It's Christ.

And if it didn't take it's because you didn't do your part. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. It's a blessing when we hear that people are listening to Pastor Greg's messages on the radio. Pastor Greg, I listen to A New Beginning every morning on KPDQ radio in Portland, Oregon. It's a wonderful way to start my day. Thank you for sending me your Christmas card last year with the pictures of your family. It's a good reminder to pray for you and your family. God bless you.

Are you being impacted by the teaching here on A New Beginning? If so, why not drop Pastor Greg an email and let him know? Send it to Greg at harvest dot org.

Do it today while you're thinking about it. Again, that's Greg at harvest dot org. Well Pastor Greg continues now with his message, The Parable of Spiritual Growth. Number three.

And we have one more after this. We'll call them thorny hearers. This one is fascinating. Verse 14. They that fell among thorns or weeds are those that when they have heard the word go forth and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life and they bring no fruit to perfection. Now the seed that was planted in the soil was in a constant battle with weeds. And weeds don't attack plants. At least not quickly. They do in time. But you've never seen a nice little flower growing and suddenly the ground starts to rumble next to it and some muscular little weed bursts up. You know. And lunges and starts shaking the plant by its stem and smacking it back and forth.

Pedals flying. It doesn't happen. But you'll see a little weed grow up. Then the next day it's a little closer. And the next day it's a little closer. And the next day it's kind of wrapping itself around it.

And ultimately it can choke out the plants. And that's the picture that we have here. This is not something that happens overnight. Notice what chokes this out. It doesn't say sin. Though it could include that. It's choked with the cares and the riches and the pleasures of this life. It's not necessarily bad stuff. It's just life. But we let the normal affairs of life become more important than the spiritual things of life.

It's been said the second best is often the worst enemy of the best. It's not a person that says, I won't pray. I won't read the Bible.

I won't go to church. Rather it's a person that does that for a while. But then they start saying, well you know I'm so busy today I have to check my emails and then I have to read the news and then I have to update my Instagram and I have to send out a few tweets and send out some texts and I just don't have time to read the Bible. It's a person that says, I would love to go to church but man this new movie or the TV show or this other thing is going on.

It's a person who says, I don't really have time to pray which is so you know busy right now. You see it's gradual and the things of God become less and less appealing. Other pursuits crowd out God. And before you know it He is not a part of your life anymore.

It happened so gradually and it happened so subtly you didn't even see it until it was effectively done. And these are people that were with us for a time and then we see them less and then we don't see them at all. You know even the apostle Paul had this problem. It's hard to believe that you could know Paul personally and not walk with the Lord because he was such a tremendous example. But Paul in Philemon chapter 1 and verse 23 talked about a few people. Epaphras my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus sends you greetings. So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke my co-workers. How awesome would it be to be mentioned in an epistle of Paul.

Man I would bring that up in every conversation. Hi my name is Demas. You may have heard of me in Paul's letter to Philemon. I mean Paul singled this guy out.

A group of people by name. So Demas is mentioned in the writings of Paul. Not once but twice. So that is the good news. He is mentioned in more than one epistle. Here is the bad news. The second mention wasn't so good because in 2 Timothy 4.10 he says, Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Wow. Hey didn't I read about you in one of Paul's writings?

Are you that same Demas? But see this is the guy that was singled out for his friendship and his commitment and now he has fallen away. And what caused Demas to fall away doesn't say overt sin. He loves the things of this life. Whereas the King James version puts it, having loved this present world.

Listen to this. There is nothing wrong with having a career. There is nothing wrong with having possessions. There is nothing wrong with having a home.

There is nothing wrong with having a car. But if those things become more important to you than spiritual things then suddenly they can start choking you out in the spiritual life. Here is the better plan. Put God first and seek first His kingdom and the Lord says, All these things shall be added to you.

Get them in their proper priority. We can be so obsessed with these things and they choke us out. So that is what happened to that category. One last category and we will close with this.

Number four. We will call them fruitful hearers. These are the ones that got it right. Look at verse 15. Those on the good ground are those when they have heard the Word, receive it with an honest and good heart and they keep it and they bring forth fruit with patience. Having heard the Word they keep it.

One of the keys to growing spiritually is getting as much of God's Word into you as possible. And it comes down to how you hear it. And I will talk about this more next time. But you know you can come and listen and hear nothing.

Right? Have you ever talked to somebody and maybe they are like texting and they go, But they didn't hear a word you said. You just finish texting and let me know when you are done and then I will say it again. And we can sit in church and say, Amen. Amen. What was said?

I have no idea. I was texting. In my heart.

It is all how you hear. This is why Jesus would often say, He that has an ear to hear let him listen. This story is told of President Franklin Roosevelt who got tired of these long receiving lines. He would have to stand in and shake everybody's hand.

And so one day he just decided to do something crazy and see if anybody noticed. So he stood in line and people came to shake the hand of the President of the United States and every person that came to him he said these words to them, I murdered my grandmother this morning. Mr. President it is an honor to meet you. President Roosevelt said, I murdered my grandmother this morning. And everyone said, Oh that is wonderful Mr. President. Thank you for that. That is fantastic Mr. President.

God bless you Mr. President. No one was listening. They were so excited to meet the President they didn't listen to what he said.

I murdered my grandmother this morning. Finally I think it was the ambassador from Bolivia hearing him say that said in response, Well Mr. President I am sure she had it coming. That is how we can be. Here is the key. The success or failure of the Christian life depends on how we hear God's Word. And when you hear it you are made responsible for that. I believe if you have really met God you will have a hunger for Scripture. And if you do not have a hunger for God's Word there is something wrong with you. Healthy people are hungry people. When you go to see the doctor you are not feeling well.

What is one of the first things he asks? How is your appetite? This is how I know I am healthy right now because I am hungry. By the way I am always hungry. Well maybe ten minutes after I have eaten I am not but it comes back quickly.

But that is a good sign in some ways. But if you are constantly hungry for God's Word that is good. So you hear the Bible say, That was great. I am fed. But a little later that night or you get up the next morning, I am hungry again. Good.

Good for you. And that is this category. They are hungry for God's Word. And when trials come or persecution comes they don't think of bailing. They just dig in.

Listen. I know it gets hard at times to follow Christ but it is worth it. Paul says, Did Timothy endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ? Some people need to just toughen up a little bit. Don't be so weak. There are people today that are standing up for the most insane things.

Speaking out for things that are so wrong and we are timidly hiding in our little closets as followers of Jesus. Let's be bold. Let's be brave. Let's be strong.

And let's speak out for Him and not back down. So which one of these four are you? Well I doubt you are the first category. You probably wouldn't even be here if you were. But maybe you are here brought along by a friend and you are just, you know, the whole night you have just been watching and praying, looking at your watch and praying I stop soon.

Is he done yet? Ok. Let's go. So I don't know what I can say to you. Only God's Holy Spirit can help you see your need for Jesus. Some of you may be like the one on rocky soil. You know you made this so-called profession of faith but maybe it was not genuine at all and you sort of fell away. In a way you didn't really fall away. You were never even there to start with. And I would say to you tonight why don't you build your life on Christ now and get serious and do it the right way.

Some of you may be like the people choked out. It is not that you are involved in bad things. It is just that everything is more interesting to you than spiritual things. You can hardly wait to get done with reading the Bible so you can get to the fun stuff you really want to read. You can hardly wait for the church service to be over so you can go do the stuff you really want to do.

See it should be the opposite. And if that is you then you need to say Lord help me with this and I want to make a real commitment to you. And maybe some of you are just the seed on the good ground and I am sure most of you are. And you are just bringing forth spiritual fruit and that is amazing and God bless all of you. But there might be some of you that have joined us who haven't even asked Jesus to come into your life yet.

You can make that commitment right here right now as we bring this service to a close. If you are not certain that Jesus Christ is living in your life. If you are not sure that your sin is forgiven.

If you don't know with confidence that you will go to heaven when you die. You can get that resolved right now by saying God I am sorry for my sin and by asking Jesus Christ to come into your life. And there might be some of you that made a commitment to follow Christ but you have fallen away.

I would like to see you make that recommitment as well. So we are going to close in prayer. And if you need to make a commitment or a recommitment to Jesus do it right now.

OK. Let's pray. Father thank you for your word to us and I pray that it will land on good soil. And I pray for those that may not yet know you yet that you will show them their need for Jesus. And help them to come to you and believe tonight.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer. And if you would like to make a change today in your relationship with the Lord. Pastor Greg will help you do that in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes. And if you missed any part of today's study you can hear an instant replay at Harvest.org. It's a message called The Parable of Spiritual Growth. Or you can request a CD copy by calling 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300. And then what a privilege it is to have baseball great Darrell Strawberry with us today. Darrell has just released a new book called Turn Your Season Around.

The subtitle is How God Transforms Your Life. You know Darrell you've made a U-turn from so many issues in your life. What counsel do you have for others who need to turn their back on drugs or drinking or immorality. But they just find themselves being pulled back into all that stuff especially during this pandemic. If they were sitting right across the table from you what would you say to them? I would say to them that they really should be able to accept the help from someone who truly loves them. You know I think of my life how I made the turn it was because of my wife Tracy.

Like over 18 years ago I was in Dope House in South Florida shooting dope smoking crack. And she was banging on doors kicking them down and coming and pulling me out. And she actually was loving me through the whole process when I couldn't love myself. And I would just say to someone that's struggling with that when you see someone loving you through the process when you can't love yourself. Allow that help to help you in that period of time.

I mean I know it's a lot of confusion going on. You feel hopeless at that time. But one thing I've learned through this process of change of life. My life didn't change by myself.

God used people to help people. And when we can understand the importance of other people encouraging you and walking with you and not tolerating which Tracy didn't. She didn't tolerate my madness. But she still encouraged me to help me that God had a plan for me. You don't have to accept you know what the person is going through. But at the same time you still show love and compassion.

So I would just I would just encourage anyone that's struggling if somebody showing you some love and compassion. Trust the process is not an overnight miracle. It just doesn't happen like that.

It's a process. And once I went through the process and accepted the help from somebody else I started getting on the other side. Because when you think about everybody that God used in the Bible they all had struggles and issues too.

Just like all the rest of us. And you know those those struggles and issues they only get on the right side with other people helping you and encouraging you through your faith. So if you want to get a copy of Gerald Strawberry's brand new book that he feels is the most important book he's ever written. You can get it from us here at A New Beginning. Again the title is Churn Your Season Around How God Transforms Your Life. And we'll send you this book for your gift of any size to help us to continue on here at A New Beginning.

To teach the Word of God and to preach the gospel that changed the life of Gerald Strawberry. Yeah that's right it's the gospel that continues to change lives anywhere anytime even in a pandemic even in a time of uncertainty. And your investment helps that kind of outreach happen. Could we ask you to partner with us now? And if you can send an investment right now be sure to ask for Darryl's book Turn Your Season Around. You can write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or call 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org. Well Pastor Greg today you wrapped up your message by talking about eternity. Yeah. How can someone listening know that they're going to heaven? Well that's a great question and I guess let me take it a step further.

I know that is the most important question you can ask. How can a person know they're going to heaven? Let me say at the outset I believe I'm going to heaven. In fact I'll take it a step further. I know I'm going to heaven.

Is it Greg isn't that kind of arrogant? Not really. Because I know this because God has made a promise to me and I've believed that promise. The Bible says we write these things to you that believe on the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. I've believed on the name of the Son of God. Thus I know I'll go to heaven when I die. Here's my question to you. Do you believe on the name of the Son of God? Is there any more important issue than that?

I can't think of one. So I'd like to lead you in a simple prayer. And this is a prayer where you will be asking Jesus to forgive you of your sin and you'll be asking him to be your own Savior, friend, Lord. It's a prayer only you can pray.

Pray these words if you would. Lord Jesus I know I am a sinner. But I know that you are the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose from the dead. Jesus come into my life. I want to believe in you. I want to follow you.

I want this relationship with you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sin and rising again from the dead. And I thank you that you've heard this prayer. And I believe you've come into my life. In Jesus' name I pray.

Amen. I want to help you grow in your faith. I want to help you grow spiritually. So I have a free gift for you. It's called the New Believers Growth Packet. What's in it?

No, not a bag of seeds to plant in your backyard. I guess it's sort of a form of a bag of seeds because I want to sow some spiritual seed in your life to help you develop as a follower of Christ. So I'm going to send you a copy of the New Testament in the New Living Translation, but it's a special edition. It's called the New Believers Bible. And it's filled with notes that I wrote that will encourage you in this new commitment or recommitment you've made to Christ. And there's some other materials in the New Believers Packet as well.

So order your copy today. And I'm so glad I had this privilege today to lead you in that prayer. God bless you. You've made the right decision.

The decision to follow Jesus Christ. Yeah, and here's how to get that New Believers Packet. Just write us at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514, or call 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Or go online to harvest.org and click the words, Know God. Well next time, Pastor Greg tackles one of the most important aspects of growing spiritually. We'll dig into the vital role God's Word plays in the life of the healthy believer.

Be sure to tune in. This is the day, the day when life begins. The preceding message from Greg Laurie was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for Pastor Greg's free daily email devotions at harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-25 23:14:17 / 2023-12-25 23:26:09 / 12

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime