Growth always requires change. When we take advantage of the discomforts and tests we face, we can make significant progress in our lives. This requires intentionality. As we take personal responsibility for our spiritual growth, we will be more engaged with God personally and more connected with others relationally.
Work through the following questions and scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.
1.) God has greater ideas in mind for our lives than we do. Our fears, weaknesses, past mistakes, regrets, and background cannot prevent us from experiencing God and impacting others in dramatic ways. Do you believe this? Why or why not? Have you experienced this in your own life?
2.) What stood out to you from the message?
3.) God works in our lives and even helps us trust Him, but there are things we must do to really grow. We have to trust God, obey Him, and make sacrifices to overcome a hardened heart, trials, temptations, and selfishness. Read Matthew 13:1-9 & 18-23. Which soil are you most like? This identification is for awareness of where we are right now in our journey of faith, not to make us feel shame.
a.) The Rocky Path: A hardened heart
b.) The Shallow Soil: A shallow faith
c.) The Path with Thorns: A distracted person
d.) The Rich and Fertile Soil: The fruitful life
4.) Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. In what ways, since coming to faith, have you seen your life change to reflect the fact that you are a new creation? What are areas of your life that you would like to continue to see change?
5.) Our lives begin to be transformed when we no longer treat ourselves as the leader of our lives and let God lead us. Do you consider yourself or God the leader of your life? What evidence points to that?
HOW WE BECOME FRUITFUL:
6.) Receptivity – is about having an open mind and open heart to the voice of God. The more familiar we are with the Word of God (the Bible), the more we know God’s character, and the kinds of things God would whisper to us.
– How is your receptivity to God?
7.) Tenacity means not giving up even when things get hard like the shallow soil. It’s about overcoming trials in our life. When things get tough, you may not know what to do, but you can know the One who does. You can trust Him.
– How are you doing with Trusting God? How could you take steps to grow in trusting Him?
8.) Intentionality is about overcoming temptations. Max Lucado said, “God loves you just the way you are. In fact, He loves you so much that He refuses to leave you that way.” It is not a sin to be tempted. Just because a thought comes into your mind does not mean you have to act on it. Just having the thought can derail us or discourage us. Therefore, it is so important to take every thought captive and consider if that thought is from God or is one that pulls us away from God (see Romans 12:2).
– What could asking the question above about your thoughts do for you right now?
9.) Proactivity is about overcoming selfishness. A Christ-follower follows Christ. We strive to become who He has created us to be by surrendering our past, present, future, regrets, mistakes, wicked choices, dreams, and hopes to Him. Growth always requires change.
– What areas of your life do you need to trust God with- surrendering self-centered ways & thoughts and choosing to walk in obedience to what He has for you?
Matthew 13:1-9 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
Matthew 13:18-23 Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
1.) A true follower of Jesus becomes more like Jesus. When our lives bear the fruit of righteousness and reflect the fruit of the Spirit, we are transformed, and here is what is amazing: many times, those around us become interested in what has happened to us. In fact, they may even want to know how their lives can be transformed as well. A change in our lives cannot help but influence those around us. On the flip side, when we do not change, we can be a stumbling block to others in our lives who know of our faith in Jesus. Are you helping those around you grow or are you more of a stumbling block for them to explore faith? Take some time this week and honestly evaluate this question.
2.) Take steps to grow and change:
-We have many Life Groups and Community Groups open right now to help you connect with others and grow in your faith. gatewaychurch.com/groups
-If you recognize some unhealthy habits or hang-ups that are keeping you stuck, join one of our Open Share Recovery Groups that meet throughout the week at our campuses: https://www.gatewaychurch.com/connections/restore/recovery/
2.) Our own South Austin Campus Pastor, Eric Bryant recently wrote a book that goes into more details about living a fruitful life. You can purchase your own copy of Fruitful: Becoming Who God Created You To Be on Amazon now! All proceeds of book sales go towards furthering Gateway’s mission.