You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.
Visit our website and learn more about Harvest Partners at harvest.org. Many of you are Bible students and you listen to great biblical teaching on the radio and you're in a small group and you read devotions and God bless you. That's amazing. But it's important now that you apply it and that you obey it. Surprisingly, 20 to 30 percent of prescriptions for chronic health conditions are never filled and about half are not taken as prescribed.
Think about that. We go to the doctor. He or she examines us and gives us the medication to make us better. All we got to do is take the pills and an alarming number don't. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out the Bible's prescription for growing spiritually.
But same thing. We've got to follow the great physician's instructions. We're going to look at one of my favorite stories in the Bible. It's a parable. Now you know what a parable is. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. And we're going to look at the parable of the sower, which is a parable that reveals to us the golden key to spiritual growth. Mark chapter 4, verse 1. Once again Jesus began teaching by the lake shore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him and he got into a boat. And he sat on the boat while the people remained on the shore and he taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables such as this one.
Listen says Jesus. A farmer went out to plant some seed and he scattered it across the field. Some fell in a footpath and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell 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 and it produced no fruit. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was 30, 60, even 100 times more than had been planted. Now listen to this. Then he said, he who has ears to hear, let him listen. Ok. That's the parable of the sower.
Say well that's nice. What does it mean? That's exactly what the disciples said.
Well what does this mean? And now Jesus explains or interprets this story here in Mark chapter 4, verse 13. Then Jesus said to them, if you can't understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables?
Here it is. The farmer plants seed by taking God's word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message but Satan comes at once and takes it away. Now the seed that fell on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy but they don't have deep roots and they don't last long and they fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's word.
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 but 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. Now the final category. And the seed that fell on the good soil represents those who hear and accept God's word and produce a harvest of 30, 60, or even 100 times as much as has been planted.
Alright. Category number one. I'm going to call them highway hearers. Highway hearers and it's in verse 15 of Mark 4. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message only to have Satan come at once and take it away.
So these are the people that you know they hear the word of God but it doesn't really penetrate their hard hearts. Jesus says the birds come and eat it. You know you've been at McDonald's or some other place and the birds are hanging out because that's free food man. That food hits the ground. They swoop 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 their hardened heart. Category number two. I'm going to call them rocky road hearers.
Rocky road hearers. Verse 16. The seed that won 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.
So the problem with this person is their heart is shallow soil. There are some people that just get excited about a lot of things. You know they they have the fad that they're into the new this the new that. Maybe it's new technology and all they want to talk about is the new technology or maybe it's a band they follow and they're just really enamored with that. Or maybe it's some other thing they're into they get into fitness fitness fitness running and doing all these things and they abandon it.
These are people that are fickle by nature. You know when you're at the market and there's all that stuff for sale as you're checking out and you oh maybe I'll buy that and I'll buy that. Things you wouldn't normally buy.
Those are impulse purchases. They know exactly what they're doing. They've done research and know what kind of items to put in front of you because there is always the impulse of person. If you want to have an illustration of this just walk down your block maybe on some Saturday when people's garage doors are open and you see all these treadmills and workout machines.
And do you see people usually in their home gym working out. No they're usually a hanger for stuff out of the washing machine and and people got excited spend a bunch of money on it but didn't follow through this can happen. And it can happen in people's relationship with God. Maybe one of the reasons a person like this would fall away is because they built their faith on the wrong foundation. Listen there's only one foundation to build your faith on. It's Christ.
It's Christ and Christ alone. Don't build your spiritual life on a church in and of itself. Don't build your spiritual life on another person or even on a pastor or a spiritual leader because people will let you down. Build your life on Christ.
He will sustain you and be there for you. But it could be persecution. Go back to Mark 4 verse 17.
And since they don't have deep roots they don't last very long they fall away. Listen as soon as they have problems or are persecuted. Now we all know about this. When we decide to follow Jesus and you announce it to your family that doesn't always go over all that well does it. You know I came from a family of a lot of people that drank and smoked and you know lived that kind of lifestyle. And I used to do it myself and suddenly I'm the Christian and we're at Thanksgiving and I think we ought to have a prayer before we eat. It's like what happened to Greg?
Where's the old Greg? Well I was changed and so I was mocked and made fun of and harassed. And we all are. We're all persecuted in some way shape or form. In fact the mark of a true Christian is they will be persecuted.
It's a barometer of where you're at spiritually. 2 Timothy 3 12 says if you desire to live a godly life you will be persecuted. So maybe this new believer or at least we thought they were a new believer is going strong and someone makes fun of them. Someone gives them a hard time they say that's it I'm out. Okay they were never converted. Or it could be something else that pulls them away but they never built their life on Christ. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment.
Hey everybody Greg Laurie here. You know my uncle Fred Jordan had one of the first Christian TV programs out there. It was called Church in the Home.
I remember watching it as a little boy when I was living with my grandparents. Well we have Church in the Home for you every weekend. It's called Harvest at Home and you can find it at Harvest.org. We have worship and a message from God's Word. So join us this weekend for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well you've joined us for Pastor Greg's message the golden key to spiritual growth.
Today's study on a new beginning is based in the fourth chapter of Mark. Let's continue. We're almost to the golden key of spiritual growth.
We have one more category before. I'll call them thorny hearers. Thorny hearers. Let's look at verse 18 of Mark 4 together. The seed that fell among the thorns, the weeds, represent those who hear the Word of God. But all too quickly the message is crowded out.
Listen you might want to underline these things. By what? The worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things and no fruit is produced.
Isn't that interesting? So this category, the thorny here, is not like the person that shoots up with lots of excitement and enthusiasm. This is a person who seems to be growing spiritually but gradually they just walk away because other things become more important to them. Listen, not bad things necessarily. Notice it says the worries of this life, the concerns of this life. I mean there's nothing wrong with being concerned about how you're going to put food on the table. There's nothing wrong with having the concern about a roof over your head.
There's nothing wrong with thinking about the needs and necessities of life. But this is a person that allows those things to become more important than God. I mean they believe it's good to read the Bible. They believe it's a great thing to pray. They're all for going to church. It's just they don't do it.
Why? Well, there's just other things. There's other things we're doing instead, other things that are more important to us than reading the Bible. We'd rather spend more time on social media and we'd like to spend more time watching movies.
We just don't have time for God. Well, that's a choice that you're making. It's been said, quote, more have been killed by food than poison, end quote.
And another quote, the second best is often the worst enemy of the best. It's just the worries of this life. So basically a thorn or a weed, if you will, is anything that crowds Jesus out of our lives. Again, verse 19, it's crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth.
Isn't that interesting? The lure of wealth. It's not even saying wealth itself.
It's the lure of wealth. You know, it's an interesting passage in First Timothy 6 10 that says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people craving money have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Now, we've heard that verse misquoted, haven't we? People will say, you know, the Bible says money is the root of all evil.
Actually, the Bible doesn't say that. Money is neutral. It's amoral, not immoral in and of itself. You decide what money will be in your life. It's the love of money. It says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, which while some have King James coveted after, they've erred, they've left the faith and pierced their hearts through with many sorrows. This is the person that's just obsessed with material things, obsessed with getting ahead financially, obsessed with money, money, money. It's all they think about.
It's all they talk about. And that can be something that distracts you spiritually because it becomes more important to you than God and you miss out on the true riches. Listen, one of these days when you die, and yes, you will die, we all will, we'll leave everything behind.
As I've said before, you've never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer. So don't make your life about all those things. Now, having said that, there's nothing wrong with being successful. The Bible even says, Jesus speaking, if you'll seek first the kingdom of God, he'll provide all the things that you need. But just don't make that your primary focus. Make Christ your primary focus. And now we come, as promised, to the golden key of spiritual growth. Ready for it? Go to verse 20 of Mark 4.
Here it is. The golden key to spiritual growth is how you hear the Word of God. Let me say that again. The golden key to spiritual growth is how you hear the Word of God. Look at verse 20.
They hear and accept God's Word. Now we all know that we can hear something and yet not hear it at all. Right? Maybe your mama's lecturing you and she's saying, you need to remember to make your bed and take off the trash and do your homework and in your mind you just hear blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so you're not really paying attention. You're hearing audibly but you're really not listening. And so you've been listening to a message from God's Word. Have you been paying attention?
Have you been checking your phone constantly or having a side conversation? I mean, you need to listen to what God's Word has to say. See, every category in the parable of the sower heard it in quotes but they didn't receive it. They didn't hear it in the right way. The story is told of President Franklin Roosevelt who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. And he complained that no one ever listened to what he said.
So he tried a little experiment out on one occasion. There was a long line of people to meet him. And he decided he was going to say to every single person, I murdered my grandmother this morning. So a person comes and the president says, I murdered my grandmother this morning. And they're responding, oh good to meet you Mr. President. That's fantastic.
You're doing a great job. Another person comes, I murdered my grandmother this morning. People kept coming by. He kept saying that. I murdered my grandmother this morning. Obviously nobody was listening because nobody responded to it until the ambassador from Bolivia came along. And he actually heard what the president said, I murdered my grandmother this morning.
And the ambassador from Bolivia said, well sir, I'm sure she had it coming. Well listen, the idea is we don't listen. That's why Jesus says, he that has ears to hear, let him hear.
Listen to this. Success or failure in the Christian life depends on how you hear the word of God. It's not a light thing to hear Bible studies. I know many of you are Bible students and you listen to podcasts and great biblical teaching on the radio. And you're in a small group and you read devotions. And God bless you, that's amazing.
You're fantastic. But it's important now that you hear it, that you apply it, and that you obey it. It's actually a dangerous thing to hear the word of God and not apply it in your own life. So what is the golden key of spiritual growth? Listen, it's hearing, it's receiving, and it's obeying the word of God.
Now in Luke's version of the parable of the sower, which we've been looking at, he has a little detail that's very important. He says, having heard the word, they keep it and they bring forth fruit with patience. Patience. Now that's a word, patience from a root word in the Greek that means endurance. Endurance. Okay, so the way you get this endurance from the Greek is through trials. The trying of your faith produces endurance. And so if you've been tried in your faith, if you've been tested as a Christian, that's making you stronger. And the way you bring forth fruit is through endurance. Getting through hard times.
Getting through challenging circumstances. And so this is very important for us, and how do we bring forth spiritual fruit? Jesus gives the answer in John 15. He says, if you abide in me, you will bring forth much fruit.
Then he goes on to say, and this is how you glorify the Father. By bringing forth fruit. What is fruit? It's results. It's actions. It's evidence that you're a true follower of Jesus.
And how does that happen? Jesus says, by abiding in me. What does it mean to abide in him? It means to sink your roots deeply into him. And walk with him.
And cultivate your relationship with him each and every day. Let me close by asking, are you abiding in Christ? Have you built your foundation on him? Which of these categories do you fall in? Are you like the highway here that hears it and blows it off and isn't really interested in it? You're not interested in spiritual things? Are you like the rocky road here who hears it and you build it on the wrong foundation? And wither in the sun, you don't stay with it? Or are you like the person who has their heart choked up at the cares of this life? And the lure of wealth and other things?
I hope not. You can be the person on good soil. You can bring forth spiritual fruit. The golden key to spiritual growth is simply that. And I hope you have that relationship with God. But listen to this. There are some people listening to me right now that are hearing this message of the gospel for the first time.
I'm kind of like the farmer throwing out the seed. And maybe for the first time you've heard this simple message. There is a God in heaven who loves you.
A God in heaven who wants a relationship with you. But the problem is you're separated from him by your sin. But the good news is 2,000 years ago God sent his son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for your sin.
He paid the price for all the wrongs you've ever done. And Christ rose again from the dead three days later. And now Jesus who died and rose stands at the door of your life and he knocks. And he says if you'll hear his voice and open the door, he'll come in. Listen. You can have Christ come into your life right now. So I'm just throwing this seed out.
What are you going to do with it? Are you going to say I want that and I want Jesus in my life and I want my sin forgiven. It can happen for you right here right now. You say well how? I mean what do I do? You pray. Pray a simple prayer. And God will hear your prayer. And even more God will answer this prayer. Only you can say yes to Jesus Christ.
That's a choice you have. Will you open the door of your life right now and ask Jesus to come in? If you want your sin forgiven. If you want to know that when you die you will go to heaven. If you want to be ready for the Lord's return.
If you want to fill that big old gaping hole in your life and get rid of your guilt. If you want this relationship with God I've been talking about. Then pray this prayer with me right now.
You might bow your head. You could even pray it out loud. But just pray this prayer with me. And this is a prayer where you're asking Jesus to come into your life.
Pray these words. Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner. But I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from it now. And I choose to follow you from this moment forward as my Savior and my Lord. As my God and my friend. In Jesus' name I pray.
Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie praying an important prayer with those making a change in their relationship with God today. And if you yourself have prayed with Pastor Greg and made a decision for the Lord. We'd like to help you get started in your new relationship with God. Let us send you our New Believers Growth Packet.
It's a collection of resources Pastor Greg has assembled to help answer your questions. And get you started off right in your walk of faith. And we'll send it without charge. Just write us at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime 24-7. Again dial 1-800-821-3300. Or go online to Harvest.org and click the words Know God.
We'll repeat that contact information in just a moment or two. And then Pastor Greg's wife Kathy is with us in studio today. She's joined by author and news anchor Shannon Bream. Maybe you've seen Shannon on Fox News at Night on the Fox News Channel. She's written a new book called The Women of the Bible Speak. The subtitle is The Wisdom of Sixteen Women and Their Lessons for Today.
Here's Kathy. I love the idea whenever I'm studying characters from the Bible that I want to glean from and learn from and be brave-like and step out and do the things they did. Sometimes I find myself a little intimidated by them because I think, well, I'm not brave like Deborah, I'm not bold like Yael and others, but I want to know the source of their strength, the source of their bravery.
And to me, when I find myself looking at the person and thinking that all those attributes and characteristics are ones that they came up with on their own, that they were born and they were gifted, etc., you know, that discourages me. But when I think, wait a second, these women were ordinary women. They were wives. They were mothers. They lived in difficult times. But I believe that the secret to their strength had to be something deeper than their own personalities or their own intelligence. It had to be something more. Would you speak to that when you think about these women in Scripture is that, yes, we're inspired by them, but we have to be more than inspired by them.
We need something to change us, right? Exactly. And the women are all so different in the book. We do have people like Deborah, who was courageous, and immediately when God told her to go, she went. But we have other women who were hesitant or doubting, and that's very human.
We're all going to experience that. I think about Sarah when she was told that Abraham would be the father and she would be the mother of many nations. And the older and older that she got, she took matters into her own hands trying to fulfill that prophecy. And she laughed when she was told that she would have a child. And God even confronted her about laughing.
She's like, no, no, I wasn't laughing. Well, God knows what we're doing all the time. And he knew that Sarah laughed when he made that promise. So I think it's good to recognize, too, that there were women along the way who really did doubt and who were hesitant.
Like I said with Queen Esther, she didn't immediately charge into King Xerxes and say, I have a demand to make to save my people. I mean, she was fearful about going, and she asked for the protection and coverage of fasting before she went. So I think it's good to recognize that we all can be hesitant or fearful in our lives, but stepping out in faith and trusting God, what He's promised us, what He's told us, or calling upon that strength through fasting and prayer, those are all tools at our disposal. So no matter what we're born with, gifts we do or don't have, I think we can grow. We can certainly develop a closer relationship and walk with God and through that gain strength to move forward. We can become better equipped in putting on the full armor. So I think there are so many ways for us to grow in our Christian life so that we can step up. The courage doesn't have to be our own. We have a source of strength that's far beyond our own. But just even understanding how we can call on that and rely on that and know it will be there.
Well, you'll find that kind of insight and more in Shannon Bream's new book called The Women of the Bible Speak. The subtitle is The Wisdom of Sixteen Women and Their Lessons for Today. Think of how this insight might encourage someone you know, a sister, a wife, a mother, grandmother. We'll be glad to send you this new book to thank you for your investment, your donation that helps keep Pastor Greg's studies coming your way each day.
We won't be mentioning this book much longer, so contact us as soon as you can. Write us today at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime. Again, dial 1-800-821-3300.
Or go online to Harvest.org. Next time, we'll consider our problems and anxieties in light of the God who calls us His own. It's a message that lays it on the line. God is bigger than your problem. Join us next time on A New Beginning. .
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