"The righteous shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17)

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Spiritual Growth

Jeff Calloway

Jesus once told the story in the Bible, which illustrates the three common barriers that keep you from growing spiritually. The story is found in Luke 8:4-15. He says there's a farmer that goes out to sow seed. In the old days they would literally spread it with their hands. As this farmer throws the seed out, it falls on four different kinds of soil. These represent different responses to God. Later on Jesus interprets the story. He says the farmer in the story represents God and the seed represents the word of God to you. The soil represents your attitude, your heart, your responsiveness to what God wants to do. He says if you learn from this story, you'll learn the keys to growing spiritually.

He says if I want to grow spiritually I must want to grow. I must be eager to grow. I must be ready to grow. I must be spiritually receptive. The primary reason people don't grow is real obvious: They don't want to grow. They are spiritually unreceptive.

On every farm there are footpaths the farmer walks as he walks through his crops. Because he walks over and over them, the soil gets compacted. There are two things true of a footpath. One, it's very hard. Two, it's narrow. A lot of peoples' minds are like that. They're hard. They've got hardening of the attitude – “Don't confuse me with the truth; I have my mind made up.” They're closed minded. And they're very narrow minded. When the seed gets thrown on this kind of hard-packed soil it doesn't even have a chance to penetrate. The birds come along and eat it before it can even take root because it just lays on the surface and doesn't even get a chance to sprout. Jesus says sometimes we're like this. We never give God a chance in our lives. We don't even give Him the opportunity to work. We don't give God the chance to answer prayer because we don't pray. We don't give God a chance to do a miracle in our life because we don't even believe in miracles.

What He's saying is this first kind of soil – the hardened path – represents a closed mind. A hardened soil represents a closed mind. Sometimes we just don't think we need God. We think, “I'm self sufficient. I can handle it. I can figure it out. I caused these problems. I can resolve them.” As a result if I don't think I need God, or if I'm afraid of God or if I'm angry at God it's obvious I'm not going to be receptive to God. “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your souls.” James 1:21 ESV

Here's the problem. An unreceptive, hard heart, closed mind is a barren lifestyle. Nothing can grow there. Jesus said the seed gets thrown on it. It does no sprouting. The birds come along and eat it. This life is for the birds! It's a wasted life. It isn't going to work. So if you want to grow you first have to say, “God help me to be receptive to You.”

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