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The Parable of Spiritual Growth | Learning to Grow

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
December 29, 2023 3:00 am

The Parable of Spiritual Growth | Learning to Grow

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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December 29, 2023 3:00 am

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Christian growth doesn’t happen automatically. It takes effort, persistence and determination. When people come to Christ, they need to learn how to grow spiritually. We’ll discuss that today here on A NEW BEGINNING. It’s important insight whether you came to the Lord a couple of weeks ago, or a couple of decades ago! Today, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us avoid the common pitfalls all believers seem to fall into, and instead set our focus on Christ and His plan for our lives.

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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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Today's episode of A New Beginning is brought to you by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Learn more at harvest.org. And while you're there, browse our library of free ebooks designed to help you grow in your faith. Sometimes we learn some hard lessons. Today, Pastor Greg Laurie warns us, never put another person up on a pedestal. You know, sometimes we put our faith in a preacher, and then we're shocked when people let us down.

That's it. I'm not going to be a Christian anymore. Hypocrite. Wait. Did you build your faith on that man?

Well, then you're in trouble. You made an idol out of a person. Build your faith on Christ.

He will not disappoint you at any time. Christian growth doesn't happen automatically. It takes effort, persistence and determination. When people come to Christ, they need to learn how to grow spiritually. We'll discuss that today here on A New Beginning. It's important insight whether you came to the Lord a couple of weeks ago or a couple of decades ago. Today, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us avoid the common pitfalls all believers seem to fall into and instead set our focus on Christ and His plan for our lives. 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's 1 Peter 1.5. So God is keeping us. But then we read over in the book of Jude, to keep yourself in the love of God. So is that a contradiction?

No. It's just two sides of the same coin. God will keep you, but you need to keep yourself in the love of God. There's God's part, and then it is your part. And we're 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's 1 Peter 1.5. So God is keeping us. But then we read over in the book of Jude, to keep yourself in the love of God. So is that a contradiction?

No. It's 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's not a single choice you make one day.

It's 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. 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 rot and because it could not get rooted properly it shot up but 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. So 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. How can the heart of a human get so hard?

Only one answer. It's sin. Sin hardens the heart and the heart that is hardened sins even more. The easiest way to get a hard heart is by exposure to the Word of God and unwillingness to receive it. Proverbs 29 one 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'll come a day when life tumbles in and they break but then it will be too late to help them. 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 hardheartedness 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'll notice is there are a lot of rocks. 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 is transformed overnight.

They come in hard and resistant and they walk out overflowing with excitement and passion. 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. 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. You know sometimes people after they make their profession of faith are shocked to find it is not all that easy to be a Christian. The emotional high wears off and two things come into play. And Jesus identifies them. Tribulation and persecution. If you are going to be a follower of Jesus you are going to find tribulation in your life. The Bible even says those that would enter the kingdom of God must do so through tribulation.

This would include trials and hardships that come in life. But Jesus specifically says it is because of the Word. See when you become a Christian your family may not be all that excited. And they are going to start mocking you. They are going to call you a holier than thou. A Jesus freak. You know we don't want anything to do with you any longer.

And that brings us to the next one. It is persecution. Paul said, all that live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. And the word persecute means to be chased, driven away, and pursued. And sometimes persecution can be violent can't it? The pages of church history are filled with the stories of courageous men, women, and even children who died for their faith. And even in society today and culture today we see Christians being martyred. You say, Greg you are freaking me out. Well sorry. But if you are going to follow Jesus it is not always going to be easy.

Now what do we face in persecution? Someone left at me the other day man. I am throwing in the towel. Seriously?

People dying for their faith in Europe said because someone laughed at you. Man up. Or woman up. Be a woman or a man of God. But if you can't handle it. If you can't take persecution then you are not going to make it. But let me say having put all that in your plate also that God will give you the strength to face whatever you face.

He will give you that strength to get through it because Jesus said, I will never leave you or forsake you and lo I am with you even to the end of the world. So that is the second category. One last thing I would like to say about this second category. Sometimes people build their faith on the wrong foundation. They went forward at an invitation because their friend did.

So if their friend falls away they fall away. You know sometimes we put our faith in a church. Or we put our faith in a preacher. Or we put our faith in something else. And then we are shocked when people let us down. The only one to place your faith on is Christ Himself.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3 11 no one can lay any foundation other than that which is already laid which is Jesus Christ. Listen sometimes we make idols out of people. You say, not me man. I never make an idol out of a person. Really?

Then why is it when sometimes if a spiritual leader fails or a pastor falls you act as though God Himself just died. That is it. I am not going to be a Christian anymore. Hypocrite.

Wait. Did you build your faith on that man? Did you build your faith on that church? Did you build your faith on that spiritual person you looked up to?

Well then you are in trouble. You made an idol out of a person. Build your faith on Christ. He will not disappoint you at any time. And by the way I am not getting ready to make some big announcement. Ok. So don't rely.

Was this building up to something? No don't don't don't. Ok.

I am not. So. But the point is is that He is the only foundation that will sustain us in times of hardship. In a moment Pastor Greg will describe the healthy soil.

The kind of life we all want to have. Where our spiritual growth is genuine and focused. That is coming up. You know there is nothing like hearing the word of God and worshiping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at Harvest.org. You can join Christians from around the world as we worship and we study the word of God together. So join us for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org.

Well Pastor Greg continues now with his study called The Parable of Spiritual Growth. Now we have the next category. The third category. Those that are choked out by weeds and thorns. Verse 14. Those that fell among thorns are those when they have heard the word go forth and are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life and they bring no fruit to perfection.

Choked. The seed is sown but it is choked. Now think about planting flowers and you care for them and you watch over them and you water them and you fertilize them and if there is a snail you remove it or aphids or anything else like that. And then there are weeds. Man they just grow without any help at all. You can have a flower that is grown an inch and a weed that is grown 14 feet in the same period of time. It has gone from an eight foot weed to jack in the beanstalk.

So the weeds grow and it is gradual but it is sure and the weeds choke out the growth of the seed, the flower, the plant. And this is very important. I want you to notice it is not just things that choke it out. Jesus speaks of the cares and riches and pleasures of this life see. The cares, riches, and pleasures of this life. So for some it could be riches. It could be material things. For another it might be cares.

Just the anxieties and pressures of life that we all have. We all have to make a living. We all have bills to pay. We have children to raise. We have our health.

We hope it stays strong. And sometimes people are all stressed out about you know living longer. And they hang around in health food stores all the time. I have to say I am a little alarmed by some people I see in health food stores. I don't freak with them all that often. But I feel like saying sometimes you know people the sixties are over. Because you know you see the old guys that are bald with long ponytails it is like sir please stop.

All right. But you know I think that people want to live the longest life they can and that is a good thing. But at the same time we have to remember that God is the one who decides the length of our life.

Now we may have something to say about the quality of our life. God determines the quantity. But don't get all stressed out about that and you start forgetting about God. You can be so concerned or obsessed with physical things you forget about spiritual things. Suddenly TV is more important than the Bible. Movies more important than church. Things on earth more important than treasures in heaven.

And it can choke you out. That brings us to one last category. This is where we want to land. We want to be a fruitful hearer. Verse 15. But on the good ground are those who with an honest and good heart having heard the Word keep it and bring forth fruit with perseverance. Patience is the word used but perseverance is a better translation. See you determine what kind of soil your heart will be. And this brings us to the secret to spiritual growth.

What is it? What is the secret? The secret is this. To grow spiritually you must abide in Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 15, I am the true vine. My Father is the vine dresser. He who abides in me brings forth much fruit. And by this is my Father glorified that you bring forth much fruit. But what does it mean to abide?

It means to stay in a given place. So let's say you planted a tree in your front yard and you were admiring it one day sitting on your porch in your rocking chair. And you thought you know that that tree would be way better in the backyard.

So you dig it up. Take it to the backyard. Plant it there. Leave it there for a day or two.

You think you know I was a mistake. I should have left it in the front yard. So you dig it up again. Put it in your front yard. Then you change your mind again and put it in your backyard. Guess what?

That tree is going to die because it is never getting rooted. So you have a person. They say they are a Christian. And they read the Bible. When they think about it this day they forget about it for a week.

Get to it later. They go to church when it occurs to them. They skip church. They jump to different churches.

They don't land anywhere. They have no prayer life. See to abide in Christ means to maintain communion with Him. It means to open His Word every day. It means to be an active vital part of the church. It means to have a prayer life.

And you are drawing your sustenance and your strength from that relationship with Him. Abide in Him and you will bring forth fruit. And that is what God wants to see in our lives. Notice in verse 23 Jesus said, He that hears the Word and understands it. Others heard it but only the last ones understood it. They applied what they had heard. We all have that choice.

And if we make the right choice to hear it and apply it the following will happen. Verse 23 will produce fruits. Some 100 fold. Some 60.

Some 30. Which of these four are you? Are you a highway here? You hear the word just bounces off like water off a duck's back. Or are you a person who has thorns and weeds in your life that chokes out the word a thorny here. Or maybe you are a rocky road here. You know there was a moment in your life where you made a profession of faith but then you just walked away from it. It is not too late to change that.

Because you have heard the Word. And the fact of the matter is God will hold us responsible for what we have heard. And if you are not in that place spiritually where you need to be today this would be the perfect time to make that recommitment to Christ. Or if you have never made it before to make that first time commitment to be a real Christian. Not one that just goes when they are in the mood to church. And not just one that calls on the Lord when they are in need. But one that walks with the Lord through the day, through the week, through the month, and through the year. The one that wants to abide in Jesus Christ. But listen if you have joined us today, and most of you have, I am not going to assume that you are already a Christian. You see Greg are there any nonbelievers left? I think they all went forward at the crusade. Oh no.

There are so many left. We just scratched the surface. If that. And you might be here listening to this. And you need to make this commitment to Christ. I am going to give you an opportunity to do that as we close in prayer. Let's bow our heads. Father thank you for your Word.

We want to have a receptive heart. And I pray for any that have joined us who may not know you yet. Lord would you help them to see their need for Jesus? Would you help them to come to you now and receive your forgiveness? In Jesus name we pray.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie closing our study talking about the importance of having a personal relationship with the Lord. And if you'd like to enter into that kind of relationship, Pastor Greg will give you the opportunity in just a moment.

So please stay with us. You know Pastor Greg, radio has a way of finding new listeners for your daily studies. Take a listen to this. Pastor Greg, you led me to Christ many years ago.

It all happened when I was driving to work and channel surfing on my car radio while stuck at a red light. At first I had no interest in what you were saying, but then I felt captivated by your voice and the way you presented the gospel. I left my car radio on that station and listened to you every day on the way to work for the next two weeks before I finally gave my life to Jesus. I still have my New Believers Bible that your ministry sent me many years ago. Thank you Pastor Greg. Well I love that.

You know it's very interesting because I came to Christ in a similar way. So what she's basically saying is she was channel surfing. She came across our program. I hear this a lot. People say, you know, you were telling a joke. I thought you were a comedian.

Probably a really bad comedian. But I heard people laughing or something caught my attention. But I came to Christ eavesdropping on what the Christians were doing. It was on my high school campus. They were sitting around in a circle singing songs to Jesus and then someone gave a message from the gospel.

Lonnie Frisbee was his name. If you've seen the film you know the story. But no one invited me to that meeting. No one told me I needed Jesus. I just saw something that interested me and I sat down and listened in.

Close enough to hear what was being said but far enough away so people would not think I was joining the Jesus freaks. But that was the day I heard the gospel and that was the day I came to Christ. And it's similar to what this young lady just said. You know she's channel surfing. She hears it. She tunes in again. She tunes in again and finally she accepts the she accepts the Lord. You probably notice that often at the end of our program I will lead people in a prayer to accept Christ. That is a unique feature of A New Beginning. And that is something we feel very strongly about. And did you know that every year thousands of people pray their prayer with me and contact us and we send them their New Believers Bible as she said.

She still has hers. And so this is something that I think is so important because there's so many people out there that need Jesus. And so I'm asking you as we come to the end of this year to send a generous gift that we can invest in the future to reach more people like this with a life-changing message of the gospel. The apostle Paul said I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes. The word that Paul uses there for power is from a root word that means explosive.

So Paul is saying there's explosive power in the gospel. That's why I preach it. That's why I give invitations for people to come to Christ and they do thanks to you because you invest. In fact I'm going to ask some of you to become a Harvest Partner. A Harvest Partner is simply someone that invests in our ministry every single month. Dave's going to tell you a little bit more but thank you in advance for your generous gift to help us bring the gospel to people right here on A New Beginning. We'd love to have you join the team of Harvest Partners, close friends who support the ministry each month.

And we have some special ways of thanking those friends. You can get more information if you go online to harvest.org. Just click the donate button and you'll find out more about becoming a Harvest Partner. Or feel free to speak with one of our representatives at 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime.

Again the number 1-800-821-3300. And then Pastor Greg just before we go, would you mind praying with the person listening who wants to make a change today in their relationship with the Lord? I'd be happy to Dave. You know as you've been listening to this today maybe you've heard another voice. By that I mean yeah you heard me say a few things but you heard God's voice speak to you. Deep in the recesses of your heart and it suddenly dawned on you this is what I need. Or to state it more accurately this is who I need. I need Jesus and I want Jesus.

But maybe you don't know how to make that connection. Let me help you. Pray this after me right now if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life. Lord Jesus I know I am a sinner and I am sorry for my sin and I need your forgiveness right now. Would you come into my heart in my life as Savior, as God, as friend.

I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for calling me and accepting me and forgiving me. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen. I know there was a relatively short prayer. Maybe you felt something as you prayed it.

Maybe you felt nothing. That doesn't really matter because God's word says these things we write to you that believe on the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. It doesn't say so you may think you have it or you may hope you have it if God's in a good mood. No that you can know it and I want you to know if you pray that prayer in a minute Jesus Christ the Son of God has come into your life. So congratulations you're now a Christian.

Now continue to follow the Lord. Yeah and to help you we'd like to send some resource materials your way. Foremost among them is Pastor Greg's New Believers Bible in a very easy translation to understand. It'll answer many of the questions you might have and get you started off right in your new relationship with the Lord. So get in touch and ask for it. We'll send it free of charge. The fastest way to connect is to go to harvest.org and click know God or call us anytime at 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Well next time Pastor Greg launches his series of most requested messages of the year. First off he points out how we can have courage when we face opposition for doing the work of God. Join us here on A New Beginning with Pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Hey everybody thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. So for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner just go to harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-29 05:13:47 / 2023-12-29 05:24:24 / 11

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