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The Golden Key to Spiritual Growth: The Choice Is Yours

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
May 24, 2021 3:00 am

The Golden Key to Spiritual Growth: The Choice Is Yours

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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May 24, 2021 3:00 am

So much of life is a study of cause and effect. We wonder why we get so many speeding tickets. Could it be that we drive too fast? Or wonder why it’s so hard to get up in the morning. Maybe it’s linked to how easy it is to stay up late the night before. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us study cause and effect is it relates to success in the Christian life. Jesus paid the price for our salvation, but we’ll see that maturity and spiritual growth are up to us.

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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.

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Everybody you're listening to a new beginning, which is a podcast made possible by harvest partners. If this program is impacted you, I love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at again it's you can learn more about becoming harvest partner by going to succession area of spiritual growth is no mystery today on a new beginning pastor Greg Laurie reveals the true people that do not succeed in the spiritual life in them that way because of choices over the course of their lifetime to not do the right thing. It comes down to this in you want to grow spiritually, you will if you don't want to go. Spiritually, you won't.

It's really up to you and cause you wonder why we get some initial reading to me that we drive. We wonder why it's so hard to get up in the morning thinking how easy it is to stay up late the night before.

Today on a new beginning for Greg Laurie of the study cause and effect as it relates to success in the Christian life. Jesus paid the price for our salvation, surety, and spiritual. Let me begin with the quest widens some see, while others fail in the Christian life. I we all know people will walk with the Lord for many years and got his use them powerfully and we know other people who basically crash and burn. Here is the answer. The people that do not succeed in the spiritual life end up that way because of choices they make.

Not one choice necessarily hundreds even thousands of choices over the course of their lifetime to not do the right thing by default end up doing the wrong thing was that it comes down to this. If you want to grow spiritually, you will if you don't want to grow spiritually, you won't. It's really up to you. In fact, God gives us a choice in the book of Deuteronomy chapter 30 verse 19 the Lord says I call heaven and earth as witnesses for you today that I've said before you life and death, blessing and cursing.

Now choose life.

So the Lord is saying it's up to you. You want to bless live you want to curse life that's your choice.

But I give you the choice and I love how he tells us the right choice because choose life. You make the right choice. Do the right thing. God is giving you everything you need to know in the Bible about him and he's giving you all the spiritual power to grow spiritually were told were over in first Peter 13 his divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Okay you look at one of my favorite stories in the Bible. It's a parable. I know the parable is a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.

Just think of it as a story we all love stories.

We all love to watch movies.

We love to read novels.

We love to read fiction. We love a good story and even better if it's a true story Jesus told lots of stories. In fact he told so many stories. The Bible says the common people of the regular folk heard him gladly. He didn't speak over people's heads. He didn't try to impress them with theological words. He broke everything down in an understandable way so they could get it and wanted a look at the parable of the sower, which is a parable that reveals to us the golden key to spiritual growth. Not long ago I was invited to the White House and a group of pastors were invited into the Oval Office at the request of the president to pray for him and give him some advice. Now some people are critical about why would you go into that will will excuse me anytime a president or a governor or an elected official would say would you come in the my office and pray for me to give me some advice. I don't think I would say no to that we have biblical precedent. Of course we look at Daniel advising of the kings of Babylon. We see Joseph advising the Pharaoh and so forth. So of course we said just send the president was very receptive to what we had to say in and then when it came time to pray. He was very happy to pray and ask for God's help in his life.

And then he gave to all of us. An unexpected gift. There was a stack of these boxes on his desk and we were each given one, and in this box has a key and it this is a commemorative key on the box it says the president of the United States and then inside is this golden key and the president said. Now this key open some log somewhere here at the White House.

I don't really know why but we understand it's a commemorative key. We were not expecting to go around of the White House next week and just are trying to put it in you know key holes and see what we can go know it's a commemorative key it's a golden key but I am a golden key for you today, and this one is not can open up any lots at the White House, but it can open up some locks if you will in your own life. It's the golden key to spiritual growth out before we read from Mark chapter 4, let's get the backdrop Jesus had had a long and emotional day. His mother and brothers showed up to where he was speaking and they wanted that to come home because in their words, they thought he lost his mind and then after that he was accused by the scribes and being inspired by Satan. Not a good day.

A lot of drama.

So to addressing this we come to Mark chapter 4 we read that Jesus is gone to the beach effectively.

Now it's the Sea of Galilee, which is actually a massive freshwater lake.

So he went to the water and I don't know about you but but I love to be near water. I love to walk on the beach.

It's a place or you contemplate things and you're surrounded by God's creation and it's just a great place to sort of unwind and reflect. And I think Jesus love to spend time in the water. We see a lot of his great teachings and activities right there near the sea of Galilee. So with that in mind, we come to Mark chapter 4 and we read these words once again. By the way I'm reading from the new living translation Mark chapter 4 verse one. Once again, Jesus began teaching by the Lakeshore, a very large crowd soon gathered around him and he got to do about the side of the boat with the people remained on the shore and he taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables such as this one lesson says Jesus. A farmer went out to plant some seed and he scattered it across the field. Some fell in the footpath and the birds came and ate it.

Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock.

I'm sure the Lord was probably gesturing as he was teaching in the sermon on the money says look to the birds.

They don't worry where you worry look at the flowers are beautiful they are. Maybe he gestured and there was a farmer in the distance throwing seed out left and right so he talks about this seed that goes in the footpath and the birds come and needed another seed falls on shallow soil with underlying rock and it sprouted up quickly, but it withered under the hot sun. He continues on other seed fell among thorns, or weeds that grew up and choked out the tender plants in a produce no fruit. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil and they sprouted brew and produced a crop that was 36. Even 100 times more that it been planted to listen to this. Then he said he was ears to hear, let him listen.

That's the parable of the sower say Wally, that's nice.

What is it mean, that's exactly what the disciples said to will that what is this mean and now Jesus explains or interprets the story here in Mark chapter 4 verse 13 then Jesus said to them if you can understand the meaning of this parable. How will you understand all the other parables. Here it is a farmer plant seed by taking God's word to others. This seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message but Satan comes at once. You might underline that phrase Satan comes at once and takes it away. Now the seed that fell on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message I receive it with joy, but they don't have deep roots and they don't last long, and they fall away as soon as the are problems were persecuted for believing God's word of verse 18 of Mark chapter 4, but the seed that fell among the thorns of the weeds represents those who hear the word of God. All too quickly. The message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth and the desire for other things and no fruit is produced on the final category and this seed that fell on the good soil represents those who hear and accept God's word to produce a harvest of 3060 for even 100 times. It's much, as has been planted all right. So what does this mean to us today.

Answer I have no idea. God bless you I have a few thoughts about this on the preacher. Of course I do actually have all message about these things. These are four reactions to God's work and you fit into one of these four categories and I want you to know that only one category was really legitimate what we might call people who were actually converted back in biblical times. The objective of the sort was to just take the seat and throw it out, throw it out and let the wind pick it up. It's not like the plan of the little crops ahead of time to carefully put the seed in and add modern farming equipment to work with out it was pretty primitive. You have walked out had his seed in his big bag, reached in and through it the wind would pick it up in this seed we go here there and everywhere. And so the objective was, you did the plowing later to see where the seed went. That's our job. Our job is to go to all the world and preach the gospel are so the sea notes. Interesting that the word broadcast actually comes from the root word of sowing seed and we hear such amazing stories from people who come to the Lord watching the Harvest at Home or listening to our radio program or through one of our live events that we do that we call harvest crusades and so forth. But we just throw this seed out to as many people as we can and time will tell who the real converts are Mr. Greg Laurie will have the second half of this message just a moment. It's so encouraging when we hear the listeners are growing like hearing the studies peer pressure.

Greg and I found Christ in the mid-1970s, very light, I first heard your preacher learned about evangelism at your first heart and I'm straight here where my friend Bill over my life and you protected me time and time again including viewing the I lived on the East Coast now for over 25 years and recently re-connected with you for your podcast where I found each podcast is a real Bible study for me and I'm learning so much that is causing me to notice God's word more intently nearly 79 years old on enthused and excited about my faith like I was.

Those many years ago. Thank you for helping me rekindle my fire of love for Jesus and my old year.

Life is wonderful reached pastor Creek's teachings from God's word had made an impact on this man's life, and if you'd like to listen to pastor Greeks podcasts.

You can do that through Google Apple course modifying or just go to that's today we're considering the parable of the sower as Pastor Greg helps us check our own spiritual health. The only way to tell if someone is really a Christian is to the test of time. I'll say that again.

The only way to tell if someone is really a Christian is to the test of time because sometimes people come on strong in the beginning and then they walk away, never to return. Other times, people of sort of a weak start, but then they get stronger with the passing of time so we just have to wait to see who the real believers are sometimes a person will make a profession of faith will fall away, but then the return that's a product here so you know the difference between a prodigal and a person is not really converted. If a person isn't really converted and walks away and never comes back. Then we would just say there like the seed sown on the road side that were there that was picked up by the Burt's, but a prodigal will always come home. You know, as I said earlier, sometimes you can have a week beginning with a strong finish take Nicodemus remember him. John chapter 3 we read that he came to Jesus by night. In fact that's mentioned multiple times. He came to Jesus at night was an important because Nicodemus was a celebrity. He was a well-known Pharisee, sort of the teachers teacher if you will. So for a man of his stature to go to this Rabbi named Jesus and ask questions well you know that with those at risk for that because he was the guy who was supposed to have all the answers, but he didn't.

Of course, so we went to Jesus at night.

You remember the conversation he he open with some compliments and Jesus just cut to the chase and said a Nicodemus you must be born again. So that really impacted Nicodemus, but we don't read there in John three in the conversation of Nicodemus believing but it appears that he did become a believer because later on in the story. After Jesus was crucified and they were laying his body in the tomb, we read that amending Joe's above arm of Fayette king to take the body and he was joined by Nicodemus and that little detail is added, who came to Jesus by night, so here's my point. Sometimes people look like a really strong and others look like a really weak example Judas Iscariot was an apostle in good standing, while Nicodemus was still groping his way in, but in the end Judas revealed himself to be a full-blown hypocrite and not a believer. All in Nicodemus became over that finish line with flying colors. So you may have a week beginning but to a strong finish. What matters is how you finish. So if you started up following the Lord you've stumbled new fallen leaves say it's too late for me notice it, it's all about how you finish because some of a great start and they never get up again.

So if you follow if you messed up, get up again.

There's still time to walk with the Lord and finish the spiritual race.

Well, okay, let's look at the different categories together category number one, I'm in a call them Highway. Here's Highway hearers and it's in verse 15 of Mark for the seed that fell in the footpath represent those who hear the message only to have Satan come at once and take it away. I want you to notice something here, Satan comes at once Jesus says he comes at once.

Know this when you share the gospel with someone. The devil is going to aggressively oppose it, and when someone makes a profession of faith to follow Christ, you need to be there to help them get grounded, spiritually, you know what I was brand-new believer. The Christian said to me in a Greg. Be careful you going to be tempted by the devil. I'd never heard of such a thing tempted by the devil and thinking that some guy with pointed ears and red skin with a pitchfork it all you know you'll be tempted by the devil. Now, either never really thought about temptation before because I think as a young kid I just started did what I wanted.

Maybe I saw Morris opportunity then temptation okay I'll be tempted by the devil. Then I said, how will I know when I'm being tempted. They said you'll know so I'm still in high school. I'm in a class and there was a very attractive girl in that class time. A brand-new believer in Jesus Christ. And I've never talk to this girl before. I'd noticed her but I haven't talked to her. So hundred classes over this girl who never gave me the time of day, she didn't even acknowledge my existence after that point. What's up to me and says hi what's your name, and I looked into her beautiful blue eyes and I momentarily forgot my name. I said pray oh he Greg you're really cute like I'm actually that never happened to me. I know and cute, but I didn't really have girls come up to me and Savior to write you really cute something Girl safe. I listen, I was a little image of Jesus on a number brand-new Christian you're really cute and he was going on here and she says, how would you like to spend the weekend with me up at our cabin that our family owns an unthinking, this is temptation for sure because you know why that kind of thing never happened to me before now to know where this attractive girl comes up and with this enticing offer and it was of course enticing. While I said no thank God and job but I knew okay. I think that was my first official temptation. That's what happens when you're a follower of Jesus, the devil is going to come and attack so that's category one. These are the people that that you know the they hear the word of God. But it doesn't really penetrate their hard hearts. Jesus, as the birds come in me that you know you've been at McDonald's or some other place, and the birds are hanging out that's free food man that food hits the ground film the soup down and get it right so that's what happened.

These are people that hear the word of God. But it doesn't really penetrate her hardened heart category number two I'm in a call them rocky road here. Rocky road.

Here's verse 16.

The seed that one on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately notice the word immediately. Immediately they receive it with joy. But since they don't have deep roots.

They don't last long, they fall away and as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's word so they start they take hold of it. But then it doesn't take root in their life now the stony ground. Jesus is speaking of is just speaking of the terrain of Israel member years ago I was on a tour of Israel and I had my granddaughter Stella. She's very little. At that point, and afterwards they said Stella.

What do you remember most about your trip to Israel. I thought you would remember some biblical site we went to. She said rocks what rocks there were rocks everywhere. That's true is a lot of rocks in the soil to the idea here is that the seed goes into the ground and there's a shelf of rock underneath, so it shoots up, but because it can get rude, it withers in the blazing sun so this is a description of a person who hears the word of God will they respond.

I made jet they respond so quickly. You know you talk to some people in conversations going for weeks, sometimes months, even years. If you like you're making a little progress other people.

The first time you tell them they say I want Jesus in my life really yeah I wanted in my life. So you say let's break and they pray and immediately there, like mega convert right there like to go to buy a Bible, not just any Bible to get a giant Bible beef start carrying around it and there are church every day of the week and Heather quoting verses and and when worship is happening there lifting their hands harder than anybody else there singing louder and there even critical of others were drawing is quickly as they're growing and you see the people that is the most dramatic conversion I've ever seen.

It was a glib ruling night and day, so maybe a month passes by their God. You don't seem a church anymore. They don't respond to your phone calls your tax what's going on.

They just walked away. They fall away. This is the category were looking at here.

So, we wonder what happened to these people will obviously they're having an emotional experience, but it didn't take root.

See, this is actually not a true conversion, though it looks like one, and sometimes people in this category. Rocky road hearers will say something along the lines of all II tried the whole Christianity thing and it didn't work for me. Only the Christian I went to church. I read the Bible. I did all that stuff but it didn't work for me and will know actually you never were converted. I'm sorry to tell you that you had an emotional experience.

Maybe you had some sense of who Jesus was, but if it was a real conversion, you would still be walking with the Lord look Christianity isn't like a product that works for some and doesn't work for others. Christianity simplified is a relationship with Christ himself. It was GK Chesterton who said and I quote Christianity is not been tried and found wanting. It's been found difficult and not try good quote. So the problem with this person. Is there heart is shallow soil, Esther, Greg Laurie, providing insight on the four types of soil we read about in the parable of the sower or the parable of the soils we talked about Highway hearers and rocky road hearers.

There's more to come as this message continues to run a new beginning. Hopefully you heard all of the insight.

Pastor Greg presented in today's program but if you missed any part you can fill in the gaps by listening just look for the message called the golden key to spiritual growth now to amplify what we've learned today, we're making available an important new book called the women of the Bible speak.

It's written by Shannon bream anchor of Fox News at night on the Fox News Channel. She's also the chief legal correspondent for the network at Pastor Greg and his wife Kathy are speaking with Shannon you know and want to your chapters you Ron and Hannah and Miriam.

And you said quote my most painful valleys of made me more empathetic a better able to share and others suffering some better equipped to give them words of encouragement. So the question is how can we allow suffering and pain to make us more sympathetic and not bitter is a really tough one and I do think that we have a couple of paths that we can take and of course I think there moments that were all frustrated or cry out to God. Why is this happening why is this person suffering why my suffering any think it's okay to ask questions. I think God knows we are human beings we are fallible we have moments of weakness by thinking asking those questions we get closer to him and we can find our answers in hand. I talked to my first book about testing very vulnerable and honest about living with chronic pain for years and I think people who have been there will now we've all probably touched on something in our life. It is been a physical struggle and adjust levels you and it really makes you humble and I think it makes you look at other people and people wanting the pains they are living through right now, emotional or physical financial whatever they're struggling with. Everybody goes through things and I it's true for me the darkest worst moments where had nothing to do but literally couldn't inform a prayer but God please help me, not some big fancy deeply fight theological drawn out prayer, but just the words, knowing that the Holy Spirit would intercede for me that time Christ was there interceding for me.

I just think the things that humblest and most make us vulnerable and is able to care for other people and for that whenever suffering any to slough and love the Scripture that talks about that.

We comfort with the comfort that we can comfort in wet and now I know in my own life that the hardest thing that I've ever been to Greg it's ever been to is the death of our son. And although that devastated his level it was absolutely one of the and most imaginable unimaginable things that could ever happen when it came out of that as a result was I sought out other women who'd been to when I'd been trail who had walked that path and had survived it and it gave me hope. Just being in their presence. He didn't have to tell me a one T3 solution. I just wanted to look at him and say they made it they got to this end, and I found the women in Scripture were also my companions in my journey. I love how you've chosen on Sarah and Hagar, and Rachel and Leah team are in risk. I was just fascinated by your selection of the women that you put in your book. These are some of my favorites too, and I wondered you know how you came up with this list. While I think the stories that are well-known even for people who are not people of faith that may have heard stories like Queen Esther people know Mary the mother of Jesus coming are ones that we thought there are base will include Dan Brown fought for other people to be included that I thought would be important like Kmart who really, really takes them inappropriate wrong turn on and is not the easiest Sunday school lesson to teach after so much about her story I wanted to include Rahab with a prostitute who was critical in helping Israel achieve in victory and so I thought it so important I think to include people who are fine because every single one of us in every single one of the women in a soccer fly, but he wanted people to know that hey, if you feel like you've made some bad decisions you've gotten off track, you can still work to all and we see that these women there in the lineage of Christ. They are people who step out to save Israel any these people are important and come from all different backgrounds so when and that we thought people probably know but show him another layer to their story but also some people that now. I think the average person probably doesn't know about Kmart or Rahab, but we thought let's include them. Some people will now they can't use it every circumstance and every person who is willing to be used in his service and I think it's interesting how many women made it into the messianic line of Jesus Christ, who had questionable reputations into my that the very genealogy of Christ is a story of redemption. It is giving the fact that you are considering the fact that that Bathsheba made it in there and talk and others. And it's like it just is a God give second chances no matter what you've done in Yunnan and is a God of second and third and fourth chances and pretty much as high in Yes this book is full of good news like that. It's an inspiring look at the lives of more than a dozen women in Scripture and the examples they set for us. Attraction and subtitle is the wisdom of 16 women and their lessons for today and would like to send you this new book called the women of the Bible speak by Shannon bream of Fox news is I thank you gift for those who gain benefit from these studies each day and can help them continue with a generous investment right now you choose the amount but thanks for your generosity. Just try to set a new beginning. Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514 or call 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime around the clock again, dial 1-800-821-3300 or go online to Pastor Greg you been teaching the Bible here on radio for many years now. In fact, almost 40 years, but you have some exciting news about television got Dave.

I'm very excited to share this news with our listeners and supporters listen everybody were launching a new television program called harvest with Greg Laurie to major TV networks across the United States.

This show will air on Sunday mornings on some networks you might be familiar with like the lifetime network FOXBusiness network Newsmax DayStar TBN and kcal here in Los Angeles. Combine these air times will reach listen to this. Drumroll please over 60 million viewers annually.

That is exciting and some of these are secular TV networks so were reaching more people who need to hear the gospel so I'm really excited about this and I'm also grateful for harvest partners and donors who have helped us launch this new TV program join us Sunday morning. You can find air times that next time more solid biblical counsel on maximizing our Christian growth and fulfillment. Join us for more pastor Greg series and Mark gospel busy people who beginning and thanks for the to a new beginning. Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by harvest partners, helping people everywhere know God sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a harvest partner

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