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The Golden Key to Spiritual Growth | Practicing Obedience to God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
March 19, 2024 3:00 am

The Golden Key to Spiritual Growth | Practicing Obedience to God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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March 19, 2024 3:00 am

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 gotta 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.

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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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A New Beginning
Greg Laurie

We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.

Learn more and sign up at Success or failure in the Christian life depends on how you hear the Word of God. Today, Pastor Greg Laurie points out the importance of soaking up good Bible teaching, but he points out the next step may be the most important one. Surprisingly, twenty to thirty 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 where 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 36 to even 100 times more than had been planted. Now listen to this. Then He said, He who has ears to hear let him listen.

Okay. That's the parable of the sower. You 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.

All right. 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 represent those who hear the message only to have Satan come at once and take it away.

So these are the people that that you know they 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. Boom 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 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 impulsive 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.

Spent 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 well what happened to Greg?

Where's the old Greg? Well I was changed and 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 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 Fain. 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 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 is not 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 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. You know 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. Or you know 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 1 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. And the seed that fell in good soil represents those who hear and accept God's Word and produce a harvest of 30, 60, and 100 times as much as been planted.

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 mom is lecturing you and she's saying, you need to remember to make your bed and take out 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 in. President says, I murdered my grandmother this morning. And they were 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. 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 gonna do with it? Are you gonna 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 you 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 Pastor Greg's New Believer's Bible. It's the perfect resource for those just getting started in walking with the Lord.

It's an easy to read translation and has scores of helps those who are new to the faith find valuable. It's the New Believer's Bible and we'll send it without charge. Just call us at 1-800-821-3300.

Or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside California 92514. Or just go online to and click know God. And then we're happy to have New York Times bestselling author Lee Strobel with us today. He's written a new book called Is God Real?

And we're so pleased to make it available to you right now. Pastor Greg? Hey Lee when people say they're atheists because you used to actually be an atheist. But do you think most people really are that or do they say that as a way to get Christians to leave them alone and stop talking to them? That's a great question Greg.

Here's my feeling about this. You know back when I was an atheist back in the 70s and and early 80s it was embarrassing. You just didn't admit that. Nowadays it's culturally popular.

It's the in thing to be. It is harder to come out these days as an evangelical Christian than as an atheist because culture will support you in your atheism. Oh yeah well sure you know you're smart so you must not believe in God and so forth. So I think a lot of people who say they're atheists have not really looked into the evidence number one. And number two most of them when you press them are really agnostic. They don't know one way or the other really whether God exists.

They're kind of in spiritual neutral. Explain the difference between an atheist and agnostically. Yeah an atheist says there is no God and when you think about that you would have to be God to be an atheist because the only way to know for a fact there is no God is to have all knowledge. The only one who has all knowledge is God himself.

So it's really a self-defeating kind of position. Agnosticism says that I'm not sure. I'm kind of hung up between I know and I don't know. I've got doubts.

I've got questions. And I think that's where most people are. But they're encouraged by the culture to kind of go to sink deeper into their skepticism these days. And that's why I tell parents don't freak out when your college kid comes home at Thanksgiving or Christmas or whatever and says I'm now an atheist. Don't freak out. That's the that's the popular thing to do these days. Keep praying for them.

Keep reaching out to them. Maybe give them a copy of this book for a birthday present or something. But I think about most people who these days say they're atheists are just spiritually confused. Well you're listening to Lee Strobel. He's talking about his brand new book titled Is God Real?

It was C.S. Lewis who once said quote even atheists have moments of doubt. And so those people that you may know who say they're atheists may in fact not be atheists at all. But whatever they are this book is going to help to answer questions they have if they really want to know answers. So whatever you're able to send in that will ensure that we will continue to preach the gospel and teach the Word of God through this radio broadcast. And it will be our privilege to send back to you a copy of this book that we've just been discussing Is God Real? by author Lee Strobel. So Dave tell them how they can get a copy for themselves.

Yeah it's easy to do. Just get in touch by calling 1-800-821-3300 and let us know you want a copy of Is God Real? As Pastor Greg said we're sending this to thank you for your support of this ministry and of these daily studies in God's Word.

So again call 1-800-821-3300 or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or you can just go online to Well 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 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
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-19 05:12:18 / 2024-03-19 05:22:29 / 10

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