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The Parable of Spiritual Growth | The Next Step

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
December 28, 2023 3:00 am

The Parable of Spiritual Growth | The Next Step

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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December 28, 2023 3:00 am

Help us share the gospel in 2024!

Pastor Greg Laurie recently pointed out that more than a million people have heard the Gospel through all the outreaches of Harvest Ministries! They hear the Gospel each day on A NEW BEGINNING, through evangelistic films, through books, television and social media, and through our large Harvest Crusades. And not only are they hearing the message, they’re responding! Today, we answer the question: “what’s next?” Good insight on the importance of spiritual growth, especially for new believers.

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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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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. In the beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out spiritual growth takes our effort and cooperation. Pastor Greg Laurie recently pointed out that more than a million people have heard the gospel through all the outreaches of Harvest Ministries. They hear the gospel each day here on A New Beginning through evangelistic films, through books, television, social media, and through our large Harvest Crusades. And not only are they hearing the message, they're responding.

Well, today we answer the question, what's next? Good insight on the importance of spiritual growth, especially for new believers. You know, when we think of the people that prayed that prayer, we have to give thanks to God. If that doesn't move your heart, then maybe you don't have a heart. Maybe your blood isn't pumping or your heart isn't working because every believer should rejoice in such a thing. But the way we see it, it's not enough to just come forward.

We want these new believers to go forward spiritually. Time will tell if they're converts or not. I'm not sure that they all are.

I would love to say they are, but I know many of them are. But I've done my job. We've done our job. What is our job? Our job as Christians is to get the gospel to as many people as we can through every means possible. That's really the Great Commission. Go into all the world and preach the gospel. That's part one of the Great Commission.

Then there's part two. Part two of the Great Commission is making disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you and lo, I am with you even until the end of the age, says Jesus. So now that discipleship process begins. Let me just say, if you know someone that made a commitment to Christ, please do everything you can to reach out to them. Thankfully, when I was a brand new believer, only hours old in my faith, a man named Mark who didn't even know me, made friends with me and took me to church and helped me in that very critical time.

And I could have easily been another statistic that fell away, but thankfully God brought the right man to me to help me. But we want to see people grow spiritually. Now it is interesting to note that some people when they accept Christ as sort of like a rocket, they take off and they just keep going higher and higher. They just bear fruit, more fruit, and more fruit on top of that fruit and then some more fruit.

But then there are others that shoot up with a burst and then they just crash and burn. Some grow faster than others. I heard a story about a father who was talking with his daughter and her little five-year-old friend Kristen. They were talking about birthdays. And as it turns out, Kristen's birthday was March 30th and the father's birthday was March 27th. He said, you know, Kristen, our birthdays are only three days apart. So little five-year-old Kristen looked at this full-grown adult man and she said, yeah, but you know what? You grew much faster than I did. But really the fact is some people do grow faster than others. Now do we have anything to say about that? Is there anything that we can do to facilitate our spiritual growth? Or is it just a random thing?

The luck of the draw, if you will. I believe you have a lot to say about that. And we are going to discover that here in Matthew 13 in what is often called the parable of the sower. I think you could just as easily call it the parable of the soils. Here in this story we discover the seed of the Word of God falling on different types of soil representing the human heart. Some flourish.

Some do not. We see God's work and we see man's work. You see God sows that seed in your heart but you decide what kind of soil your heart will be. God has given you everything that you need to grow spiritually. The Bible tells us that the Lord is keeping us by His power through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

That is 1 Peter 1.5. So God is keeping us. But then we read over in the book of Jude to keep yourself from the love of God. So is that a contradiction?

No. It is just two sides of the same coin. God will keep you but you need to keep yourself in the love of God. There is God's part and then it is your part. So why do some succeed spiritually and others fail? Answer. Because they choose to. It is not a single choice you make one day.

It is hundreds. Even thousands of choices they make over the lifetime to do the right thing or to do the wrong thing. So we see that played out for us in the parable of the soils or the parable of the sower.

Just a quick side note. What is a parable? A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. A parable is an illustration. The word parable comes from a compound word that means to place something beside something else. And that is what we see here in this particular story. It takes the complex and makes it understandable.

Know this. Jesus never bored people. And I don't know why some preachers do. I don't understand how they can take the action packed word of God and make it so dull you feel like you are watching paint dry when you listen to Him.

There is just no excuse for that in my opinion. So here is Jesus connecting to His audience if you will. Speaking in a way that will be understood by His listeners. There was probably a guy out there sowing seed when he gave this parable. Maybe even our Lord gestured toward him. And he says, okay so a sower went out to sow seed. And some seed fell on rocky ground on the roadside and the birds swooped down and ate it and the seed never took root. Then some seed fell on ground that was embedded with rocks and because it could not get rooted properly it shot up and withered in the blazing sun. Then other seed fell on soil that was embedded with thorns and weeds and though the seed began to grow into a plant it was slowly but surely choked out by the weeds.

And finally some seed fell on good ground and brought forth a lot of fruit. That is a paraphrase of the parable. Now here is the interpretation. Matthew 13 verse 18. Now therefore hear the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the Word of God, the Word of the kingdom rather, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes.

That is Satan. And snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one that received seed by the wayside. He that received the seed on stony places, this is the one who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy.

Yet he has no root in himself and adores only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the Word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is the one who hears the Word and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word and it becomes unfruitful. But he that received seed on the good ground, this is the one that hears the Word and understands it and indeed bears fruit and produces some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. Now back in these days of the first century the way they sowed seed was different than the way we do it today.

Now we have all the latest tractors and irrigation systems and all the things that can help a farmer have a successful crop. But back in these days it almost was random. They would just go out with a bag of seed and the sower, the farmer, would just take the seed and throw it out.

The wind would pick it up. Some seed fell on the roadside, some seed fell on ground embedded with rocks, etc. So there was a randomness but the seed found its intended target. The same could be said of crusade evangelism. You know we just take that seed and throw it out there and it reaches the audience that is there in attendance and then it reaches those people watching on the Internet and watching on television and listening on radio.

And then it is archived and watched later by people and heard later by people. And what I have been amazed by is there are people who have heard messages that are a year old and yet it speaks right to them right where they are at in that moment. That is the power of the Word of God.

But our job is to reach as many as we can. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3, 6, 8, my job was to plant the seed in your heart. Apollos, that is another preacher, watered it.

But it was God who made it grow. The ones who do the planting and watering aren't important. But God is important because He is the one who makes the seed grow.

The one who plants and the one who waters work as a team with the same purpose. This is about all of us working together as a team. And the person who sets the stage up and the person who stands on the stage and the person that works behind the scenes in the web department. Or the person that is down on the field counseling the new believer. Whatever it is you do that is an important role.

We all work together as a team so God will get the glory. But here is the focus. You need to listen.

Actually Matthew omits a word that Mark uses in his version of the parable of the sower. The word is listen. Jesus is saying listen. Pay attention to what I am saying to you now. This is very important.

And that is true for us. How we hear the Word of God. It is attention with intention. The story is told of President Franklin Roosevelt. And he was in the White House and there was a long line of people that wanted to shake the hand of the President of the United States. And he would say things to them and didn't feel like anyone was listening to what he said. So as an experiment he decided one day he was going to say to every person that he shook hands with, I murdered my grandmother this morning.

And so a person walks by. I murdered my grandmother this morning says the President. And they said, very good Mr. President. Thank you so much. You are doing a great job. I murdered my grandmother this morning. God bless you Mr. President.

We are proud of you. And he just said it again and again. Finally the line is coming to a close. And it is actually the Ambassador from Bolivia that responds to a statement. The President says, I murdered my grandmother this morning.

The Ambassador from Bolivia said, well sir I am sure she had it coming. The only guy who listened. You can be like that in church can't you? You can listen technically, audibly. But you are not really listening with your heart.

You are not taking it in. So Jesus is saying to his audience, listen up to what I am saying. In just a moment, Pastor Greg gets very practical. We will consider the four soils in this parable and get some important insight on spiritual growth.

Stay tuned. We love hearing from our listeners. Whether it is a short word or they take some time to tell us what is going on with them. Hi, I was watching Jesus Revolution and stopped at the point where the actor who played Greg said his name was Greg Laurie. I rewound it to make sure I heard it correctly. Then I googled it and wow, I had no idea that was you. And I also did not know that you had a hard life like I did. I honestly only know you as the guy I get devotions from in my email. I was surprised and thankful. Do you have a comment to share with Pastor Greg?

If so, call him and tell him about it. The number is 1-866-871-1144. That is 866-871-1144. Well today, Pastor Greg is taking us to the parable of the soils to learn some important lessons on growing spiritually. And for a copy of this study called the parable of spiritual growth, just go to harvest.org. Here is Pastor Greg. Now we see these four soils.

Let's start with the first one. We will call them highway hearers. Verse 19. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.

This is he who received seed by the wayside. Now this is a group of people that you tell about Jesus and they just don't respond. In fact they might even respond with a certain degree of hostility.

They don't want it in their life. This is sort of illustrated by the birds that grab the seed off the roadside. Or maybe to put it in our lives like when you go to In-N-Out Burger and you decide to sit outside and you have your burger and your fries. And a fry drops to the ground and the birds come and get it. And some birds are even more aggressive. They will take that fry right out of your hand. And don't get me started on seagulls. I am no fan of seagulls. I mean they will come to the beach. You have your little lunch there. They will fly off with your lunch.

They will fly off with your children if you don't watch them. So this is the picture here. Immediately the devil comes and snatches away the word that was sown in their heart. This is the person that just has a hard heart. How can the heart of a human get so hard?

There is only one answer. It is sin. Sin hardens the heart.

And the heart that is hardened sins even more. Paul explains this in 2 Corinthians 4. He says, Satan the god of this evil world has blinded the minds of those that do not believe so they can't see the glorious news of the gospel.

They don't understand the message we preach about Christ. Satan blinds them. Then he binds them.

Then he grinds them. If you don't believe me ask Samson. That is what happened to him. He was blinded by the devil. Ultimately he was blinded by the devil. He gouged his eyes out.

And then he was left to grind the mill there for the Philistines entertainment. Yeah that is the way Satan is. And these people have hard hearts. And you know the easiest way to get a hard heart is by exposure to the Word of God and unwillingness to receive it. Proverbs 29 says, He who is often rebuked hardens his heart and will be suddenly destroyed without remedy. Or another translation puts it this way. For people who hate discipline only get more stubborn. They will come a day when life tumbles in and they break.

But then it will be too late to help them. You know here is the perfect illustration. Pharaoh the leader of Egypt. Moses came into his presence.

Did miracle after miracle after miracle. And the Bible says Pharaoh hardened his heart. Pharaoh hardened his heart. Pharaoh hardened his heart. Ten times in the book of Exodus it says Pharaoh hardened his heart. Then ten more times in the book of Exodus it says God hardened Pharaoh's heart. God hardened Pharaoh's heart. So some people say, Ah it is a contradiction in the Bible.

No it isn't. Again two sides of the same coin. See God gives a free will to a man and to a woman. And if you choose to exercise that free will toward God and believe He will strengthen you in that belief. And if you choose to resist the Spirit and harden your heart in effect God will strengthen that as well. In fact a better translation of the word for God hardened Pharaoh's heart would be God strengthened Pharaoh's heart. So this is the first category.

They just have hard hearts and there is nothing you are going to say that is going to dissuade them from this point of view. Now we come to category number two and I think this is especially relevant in light of our crusade. We will call them rocky road hearers. Verse 20. He who received the seed on stony places is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. But he has no root in himself and endures only for a while and when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word immediately he stumbles.

In contrast to the hard heartedness or indifference of the highway hearers these are folks that have no real depth or root. You know when you go to Israel today one thing you will notice is there are a lot of rocks. I took my granddaughter Stella over there for one of our tours and she was very little and I asked her, Stella what do you remember most about Israel? She said, Papa I remember rocks. Yeah that is true.

That is all you remember. But everywhere you walk around in Israel there are rocks. You can pick them up. And there are rocks underneath the soil as well.

So sometimes a seed can be sown but it can't get rooted because of the rocks. This is a picture of the person that seems to have the most dramatic off the hook conversion you have ever witnessed. This is a person that has transformed overnight. They come in hard and resistant and they walk out overflowing with excitement and passion. This is a person that after the conversion they are not happy with this little start Bible we give out. They go out and buy the biggest Bible available. You know a family Bible. They walk around carrying it. And they pepper every statement with praise the Lord. I was walking on the street yesterday. Praise the Lord. And the light was green. Praise the Lord.

So I crossed over. Praise the Lord. And they go praise the Lord. You know they are like that. All they can talk about is Jesus.

It even embarrasses you a little bit. When you are out with them they are so passionate. They come to church. They lift their hands higher than anybody else.

They sing louder than anybody else. And then a week goes by. Maybe a month. And they are gone.

Gone with the wind. And so you call them up and say, Where have you been? I haven't seen you at church. Oh I am not into that anymore. Why not?

Oh I just psyched myself into it. You know I just did it because my friends did it. And we say, How could this happen? Well how it happens is some people are just impulsive by nature. You know when you go to the market.

Or a Target. And all that stuff is there at the checkout counter. You know why that is there?

That is for impulsive buyers. People that go, Oh gum. Batteries. Magazines. Oh National Enquirer. Must have all of these things. Right?

They are looking for those impulse buyers. And there is always a bunch of them out there. And this can happen in our faith.

Oh I am going to try this. This is exciting. But then when it gets a little bit hard. They forget about it.

Forget about it. Right? I mean there are so many people that I am going to get in shape this year. So they buy the latest you know equipment you can put in your garage. And then you walk around on a Saturday in your neighborhood. And when you see garage doors opened up.

You see a lot of those exercise machines being used to hang clothes to drive. Those are the impulsive people. Some people sign up if you will to follow Jesus because of impulse. They have a shallow emotional experience. So you ask the question, Well are these people who became Christians then lost their salvation?

No. These are people that never had salvation to begin with. You say, But Greg I saw results in their life and they said Jesus a lot. And they had a really giant Bible. They must have been a Christian. No. By their fruit you shall know them.

And when we say fruit we mean long-term fruit. Listen. Here is how you know who a Christian is compared to a non-Christian. Or even a person who made a profession of faith. It is where they end up.

A prodigal will always find his way home. But if a person makes a profession of faith and they walk away from it and never return. I suggest to you they were never a Christian to start with. You might say, Well what do you base that on?

Base it on 1 John. Loose paraphrase. It says, They went out from us. They didn't continue with us. If they had really been of us they would have stayed with us.

But because they left it showed they were never really with us. It is where you end up. So this is this category.

Rocky Road Hures. We're digging into the parable of the soils or parable of the sower with Pastor Greg Laurie here on A New Beginning. And Pastor Greg has more to come. As you've been listening today maybe you're realizing you need to make a change in your relationship with the Lord. Well Pastor Greg has some important comments to share before we go any further. Maybe as you've been listening to this message you've thought, I wish I could come into this relationship with God.

I just don't know how. Let me tell you how you can come into a relationship with God right here, right now. First of all you need to recognize you need God. You need to admit you're a sinner. I know some people choke on that word but the Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But then you need to recognize that Jesus Christ the Son of God died on the cross for your sin. The Bible says while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. And then you need to believe in Jesus.

Jesus put it this way, for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son. And whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. You might ask how does one believe in Jesus? To believe means to put your faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone. And to receive him into your life as your own friend, Savior and Lord.

The Bible says for as many as received him he gave them the power to become sons of God. Would you like to receive Christ and by that I mean would you like to ask Jesus to enter into your life and be your Savior, your friend, your Lord? If so you can just pray this prayer after me now. Pray these words if you would. 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. I turn now from my sin and I ask you to come into my life and forgive me of all of my sin.

Thank you for loving me. Thank you for hearing this prayer and thank you for answering this prayer. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen. Hey if you just prayed that prayer I want to congratulate you and say welcome to the family of God. Yeah that's right and we want to help you get started living for the Lord. Let us send you a copy of Pastor Greg's New Believers Bible.

It's in an easy to understand translation with hundreds of helps that will guide you into building a strong foundation for your faith. We'll send it free of charge if you prayed with Pastor Greg today. Just ask for the New Believers Bible when you call 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300.

You can call anytime or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click Know God. You know Pastor Greg you've been reaching out with the gospel for a long time now.

Yeah. And we often hear from people who found the Lord way back in the early days of your ministry. In fact listen to this. Pastor Greg I was saved as a five year old little girl while listening to you preach the gospel. It was 1995 at Angel Stadium and I knew even at that age that I needed to make my way down for the altar call.

It's a day I will never forget. Even down to the Harvest Crusade counselor who prayed with me and my parents. I am now serving Jesus every day and walking out my calling. I just watched your movie Jesus Revolution and cried watching your story unfold. I'm so grateful that you accepted the call to Jesus all those years ago. Thank you Pastor Greg.

Wow I love that five years old. You know a lot of times we think oh the kids don't understand. Oh they understand. They understand a whole lot more than you think they do. And a commitment can be made to Christ at an early age that will last a lifetime as shown in what we just heard.

You know Dave I'm amazed at how many times I get letters from folks that say we listen to a new beginning on the way to school. Or as we're driving around. And the parents will say and my children have come to the Lord listening as well. So that's why I always try to illustrate my messages. Why I use humor in my messages. Because I always think of those little kids that might be listening in on what we're saying.

In fact they're listening right now. So hey kids how you doing? We love you. And this is for you too.

So let me talk to your mom and dad or your grandparents for just a moment. And say let's do everything we can to reach this younger generation. By the way we're doing something we're very excited about that we're going to announce in the first of this year. But we are going to get into animation. As you may know I used to be a cartoonist. If you saw the Jesus Revolution film you saw that my character Greg was always drawing.

And that was very true. So I have this little character his name is Ben Bornagain. And he has a dog named Yellow Dog who talks. It's a cartoon. He can do that in cartoons. And so we have animated Ben Bornagain and Yellow Dog. And this is going to be a cartoon that will be entertaining.

It's going to be fun. Lots of gags and jokes to keep the attention of the little ones. But then it has a very direct gospel message complete with a prayer the little kid could pray to ask Christ to come into their life. So if you follow me on social media you'll see little things I'm going to release. But in the beginning of this year you're going to be able to see the animated version of that living water track that I drew.

That was featured in the Jesus Revolution film. And be introduced to the cartoon adventures of Ben Bornagain and Yellow Dog. But listen if you believe in reaching this next generation. If you believe that people need to hear about Jesus Christ. I'm going to ask you to bring a generous year-end gift to us here at A New Beginning Harvest Ministries. And in doing so you're hoping to reach those little five-year-olds and those 55-year-olds and those 85-year-olds and everyone in between. Because everyone needs to hear the gospel. So be generous and invest in the future with the only message that can change the human heart. The gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yeah that's right. And it's easy to get in touch with us. Just call 1-800-821-3300. We're here 24-7 to take your call. That's 1-800-821-3300.

Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or just go online to harvest.org. Hey everybody I want to encourage you to check out the new Harvest Plus app. It's on Roku, Apple TV, and Google Play among others. And you can stream incredible content on all major platforms for free. You're going to find live events, our evangelistic films like A Rush of Hope, Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon, Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon, and our newest film, Fame. You can also stream our feature film Jesus Revolution as well as the entire library of the Kingdom Story Company films. Plus our TV programs, our podcast Harvest at Home, and a lot more.

Stream it all on any device for free using the new Harvest Plus app. Well next time, more helpful insight on how to maximize our spiritual growth. Great insight for new believers and veteran Christians. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner, sign up for daily devotions, and find resources to help you grow in your faith at harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-28 05:16:05 / 2023-12-28 05:28:01 / 12

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