Re:launch Your Life – Grow

We concluded our series at Gateway in Austin called “Re:launch Your Life.”

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.

Discussion Questions:

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.

Next Steps

Message Video:

Message Notes:

Through unlocking an ancient truth revealed by Jesus, we can experience a life beyond our imagination and beyond our limitations. In his lifetime, Jesus revealed for the first time an ancient truth that prophets and the righteous had longed to discover. The secret had been hidden for ages. Jesus revealed a new way of looking at life, a new way of organizing the future. God’s design for our lives is that we would be productive, generative, and creative.

Jesus described four types of soils representing four types of people. Some are like a path, some are like a shallow and rocky soil, some are like soil growing thorns, and some are like a soil that produces much fruit.

So as I read Jesus’ explanation, consider which soil are you?

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 1When 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.” (Matthew 13:18-23, NIV)

Of all the messages Jesus could share in front of one of the biggest crowds ever gathered around Him, you might be surprised He chose this specific message. He didn’t start this message from the boat talking about life after death. He didn’t talk about wealth or poverty. Instead, Jesus described a journey toward becoming fruitful.

Jesus tells us that in His kingdom you have unlimited potential.

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.

We can experience a life beyond our wildest imagination when we maximize who we were created to be. Applying the principles Jesus shared in describing the four types of soils, we can become fruitful (a.k.a., creative, generative, and productive) for the kingdom of God. Jesus’ parable points out that we struggle to become who we were created to be when we have a hardened heart, a shallow faith, or find ourselves trapped among the thorns. If we can avoid these pitfalls, we will be fruitful.

Which soil do you think best describes where you are in your spiritual journey?

1.        The Rocky Path: A hardened heart

2.        The Shallow Soil: A shallow faith

3.        The Path with Thorns: A distracted person

4.        The Rich and Fertile Soil: The fruitful life

  •  Some of us have a hardened heart. We have been walked on. We haven’t heard from God in a long time. We don’t want to hear from God.
  •  Some of us have a shallow faith. Our faith is based entirely on our circumstances and how we feel at the time.
  •  Some of us have been distracted by temptations we keep falling into over and over.
  • Some of us are in a good place. We are seeing change in our lives and change in the ones we care about, and it’s happening through us!
  • Some of us see a glimpse of more than one. We are seeing God do good things or even great things, and we are on the edge of falling back into darkness

Wherever you are, Jesus pointed us toward becoming fruitful transformed by God and helping others transform. We can become fruitful!

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. We need to choose to follow Him, which is not always easy.

It’s about making progress.

Take the next right step in front of you.

What Does It Mean to Be Fruitful?

Throughout the Scriptures, those who have a relationship with God through Jesus are challenged to bear fruit. Jesus and Paul talk about bearing fruit repeatedly. So, what does this mean?

In essence, “bearing fruit” is an expression that describes changes in our lives or changes in the lives of others. These positive changes are the results of intentional decisions we make that shape how we live our lives. Our beliefs begin to shape how we live our lives. In addition, our beliefs can influence what others believe and how they live their own lives.

Personal Transformation

Bearing fruit means a positive change in our own lives. Paul writes to the followers of Jesus in the city of Galatia to encourage them to live different lives now that they are following Him. He describes two types of people: those who live influenced by darkness which is the sinful nature and those who live by the Spirit.

He writes:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:19-23, NIV)

In a similar letter to the Corinthians, after the list of actions of someone stuck in the sinful nature, Paul adds the phrase: “And that is what some of you were” (1 Corinthians 6:11). This means that the church is made up of people who have been living this way, but the beauty is that we do not have to live that way anymore. We do not have to clean up our lives to get to God. Instead, we repent. We turn our lives over to God, asking Him to guide us in His ways and to change us out of gratitude for all He has done for us.

Our lives begin to be transformed when we no longer treat ourselves as the leader of our lives and let God lead us. People who know us should notice the difference in how we live our lives. Whether our life story is so dramatic that it should be a made-for-TV movie, or we have managed to live a sheltered life, our life should be different than it was before we chose to follow Jesus.

Other passages refer to the “fruit of righteousness” (Philippians 1:11). We are to bear the “fruit of righteousness” because we have received the “fruit of the Spirit.”

When we choose to turn from our sins toward following Jesus as our leader, we should become different people. We are no longer the same. “The old has gone the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). People should notice that we are not as impatient, irritable, insecure, proud, immoral, and so on. The change takes place instantly as well as over time. God’s Spirit within us convicts us and guides us. 

Sadly, too many people have done a great deal of damage in the name of Jesus or even Christianity. Without exhibiting these beautiful traits of kindness, gentleness, love, and patience, religious Christians have imposed their view of the world on others who are not yet sure about faith. Their form of cultural Christianity has kept people from even exploring faith, because they spew condemnation, which comes from a place of darkness.

Too often we have allowed distorted versions of Christianity that have more in common with nationalism or Marxism than the teachings of Jesus to affect how we trust God and trust others. We have allowed others to steal from us what God wants to give us. We should not give the worst people in our lives so much power! Do not let the evil choices of others keep you from discovering the God who loves you and invites you into a life of purpose and meaning.

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.

How do we grow? Taking personal responsibility and within community!

We won’t have time to dive too deeply into this, but I write extensively about this in my new book Fruitful: Becoming Who God Created You To Be which we have available here on campus for today only!

Four Characteristics To Become Fruitful:

  • Receptivity
  • Tenacity
  • Intentionality
  • Proactivity

Receptivity is about having an open mind and open heart to the voice of God.

Our next series we will look at how God speaks to us through the Bible, and I know some of you have lots of questions or maybe even doubts about the Bible. We will tackle that, but you should know the Bible is also called The Word of God. It’s one of the keys to hearing His voice. Jesus trusted the Hebrew Scriptures and so should those of us who follow Jesus, and we also get the New Testament to guide us.

The Bible is not the only way God speaks. He also speaks with “a still, small voice” and check this out the Scriptures say after we say “yes” to following Jesus then “we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Cor. 2:16

The more familiar we are with the Word of God, the more we know God’s character, and the kinds of things God would whisper to us.

Typically, God’s voice calls us towards those things which are selfless, require courage, and are consistent with His character as found in the Scriptures.

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. You can trust that somehow what was intended for evil, He can work so powerfully and mysteriously that good can come out of the darkest moments. We do not know why, but we know the One who does. We can trust Him.

We can choose hope even when we don’t feel like it.

Intentionality is about overcoming temptations.

I grew up in church hearing all about what we needed to stop doing. I saw Christianity as a giant “Don’t Do List.” The problem is that I never understood why we should avoid these behaviors. What I didn’t hear was that this was a list of things that hurt us and brought pain into our lives and the lives of others. For the longest time, I never realized God was offering a better alternative. God’s message to us is, “Come as You Are, and You Don’t Have to Stay That Way!”

“God loves you just the way you are. In fact, He loves you so much that He refuses to leave you that way.”

– Max Lucado

There is so much hope and beauty in that!

Often, we make progress only to fall again. During this relapse, we give up trying.

Remember: Messing up does not have to mean giving up! Get right back up and start over. The more we succeed, the more confident we will become. Furthermore, it is not a sin to be tempted. Just because a thought comes crashing into your mind does not mean you have to act on it. Just having the thought can derail us or discourage us unless we put these principles into practice. Therefore, it is so important to take every thought captive and renew your mind.

We need to rely on God’s help and the encouragement of others, but we can do this. We don’t have to stay this way! When I share about next steps to take, I will share ways to get connected to community to help you in this! We need help from others to grow!

Still struggling to get started? If so, choose to move forward for others and with help from others. I think of my uncle who quit smoking the day his first child was born. He couldn’t quit on his own, but he could quit for his son.

If you aren’t willing to take care of yourself now, then you won’t be able to take care of others later.

Let your motivation come from a deeply spiritual place—out of gratitude to God.

Proactivity is about overcoming selfishness.

A proactive person doesn’t remain a victim, no matter what they may face. A proactive person doesn’t complain about something they are unwilling to do anything about!

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.

When we live the way of Christ, we obey Christ.

Throughout the Scriptures, we see a connection between listening to God and doing what He says.

“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.” (John 14:21, NIV)

Only those who trust God obey Him.

Obedience has negative connotations in our society but think of obeying God as being invited by someone to your surprise party. You don’t know why they are asking you to do what they are asking, but you know you can trust them. The result of obeying them (even though you don’t want to) is a fantastic party (even if it wasn’t totally a surprise).

When we trust God by obeying Him, we express our love to Him. God’s love language is trust.

When we say “yes” to following God, we carry His name. We are His representatives. We can say it like this: “Don’t call yourself a Christian, if you aren’t going to live like Jesus.”

Followers of Jesus know that this life is not all there is. We are promised a life in God’s presence for all eternity. That’s what heaven is! We are citizens of heaven who are bringing heaven to earth with God’s help and out of gratitude for all God has done for us!

What’s after this life gives us hope. Bringing heaven to earth gives us purpose.

When we let go of self and allow God to lead us, we become who He created us to be!

We experience the blessing of a life connected to God, and that blessing impacts those we love.

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.

Do you have community helping you grow spiritually?

We want to be that for you. Coming on Sunday is a great start, but it’s just the beginning.

So what is your next step to relaunch your life?

Join a group, a team, a network, or spiritual running partners.

We cannot experience the transformation God has in mind for us without others helping us along the way (and without also helping others in their journey).

During this pandemic as a church, we have simplified our approach and what we do. We do these three things, and we want to grow to do it really well and help you do the same!

Inspire, Connect, and Lead

Inspire – our weekend gatherings where we come together to connect with God and each other. Every week whether you are exploring God or have been walking with God for years, there is always a next step. You can always trust God more.

Our weekend inspire services are like Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount where the crowd was filled with people who were not welcome to come to the synagogue along with those who had chosen to devote their lives to following Jesus – and everyone in between.

Connect – Just as Jesus had his 12 disciples, we each need a group of people in our lives. Coming each Sunday is good, but it’s just the beginning.

There are four ways to connect:

Grow – very intentional life groups working through the Scriptures using the life group outcomes as their guide.

Heal – Restore and Recovery groups

Belong – Community groups and Connect Networks (like our networks for College age students, Anchor for our 20 somethings, Business Leaders, among others). These are a great place to belong! In a city that can be incredibly lonely, we all need a place to belong.

Serve – Serving on our Campuses and Serve Networks (like Feed the Community, Bridging Neighbors, among others).

Jesus said: When we lose our lives in serving, that is how we find our lives. Serving leads to maturity. When we fail to serve, we hijack from ourselves an opportunity to grow. We need to serve more than others need our help.

We will start in different places, but we want to be a community that helps people experience all four.

Let me give you an example. You might start with a community group that becomes a life group. With your life group you’ve gone through the outcomes and now some of you start serving kids on Sundays and some of you start going through Recovery together. You are still a group, but you are intentionally helping each other continue to make progress.

Let me give you another example. Maybe you serve with Connection on Sundays. You are on a serving team. You lead your team in a devotional. You pray for each other each week. You are serving and you are creating a place to belong. Next level is getting together outside of Sundays to get to know each other. Perhaps you start growing together by reading through a Bible plan throughout the week together or maybe several of you join a life group to begin working through the outcomes or you join a Restore class together to find healing. It’s about being intentional about your own spiritual growth and taking others with you.

All four are important.

Spiritual Running Partners

Here’s next level. Maybe you are already in a group, on a team, or in a network. Your next step is to have Spiritual Running Partners.

Spiritual Running Partners are  3-5 men or 3-5 women (no more than 5) who agree to be intentional to help each other grow in their relationship with God -no perfect people allowed style.

How do I find a Running Partner?

As you run after Jesus, simply look around your church community and see who are others that seem to be running after Jesus at a similar pace, not too far ahead or behind you. Pray about and ask a few others that you identify running at your pace to consider meeting for a few months to give a Running Partner group a try.

Don’t over think this or try to force stuff to happen, trust that God is with this group, loves that you’ll are having these conversations and inviting Him in – HE will be the one to cause growth, Running Partners are creating the soil and environment for Him to work.

Once you have your group of 3-5, send us an email at grow@gatewaychurch.com to let us know who is in your group. You can also email us for other RP group resources or go to gatewaychurch.com/runningpartners.

If you already have community, help others find what you now have!

You never grow more than when you are helping others grow!

Transforming Others

Bearing fruit means changing the lives of others. One of the results of following Jesus is that we help others choose to follow Him as well. We are so moved by what God has done in our lives that we cannot help but share with others what God has done for us. We are motivated by a care and concern for others that compels us to help them discover what we have found in a relationship with God. When we help others choose to follow Christ, we bear fruit. We have multiplied ourselves. We give birth to spiritual children.

Embedded into our spiritual DNA is a calling to “go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18). Jesus once told his disciples, “I chose you to bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16). Bearing fruit means leading others to follow Jesus.

We are also called to bear fruit in our relationships. Jesus changes our lives so that we might be his ambassadors in helping others change as well. We are called to impact those we know and love by helping them discover the love of God and a relationship with Jesus.

We can never force anyone to make the same decisions and commitments we have made. God has given us all the freedom to choose a life that excludes or includes His presence. We must have the same attitude.

With God’s help, we can develop new patterns or habits in our lives. This life transformation often frustrates yet intrigues those who are closest to us. When we are being transformed by God, we may find that our family or friends who do not yet follow God resist these changes. They knew what to expect from us. Now they don’t. We may even face persecution because those closest to us miss “the way we were” or because they feel compelled to consider the way they are living their own lives.

We can be a part of pursuing others with God’s love. We have the privilege of serving God as His messengers. We can share the life-changing message of Jesus with others so that their lives would be just as transformed as ours. We are to bear fruit by BLESSING others and Mentoring others. In other words, by making disciples.

Lead – BLESS those not yet following Jesus and Mentor those who do.

In other words, evangelism and discipleship if you grew up going to church.

There are people God has put in your life to help them find faith and grow in their faith.

For a moment, think about the person who has either helped you follow Jesus or who has influenced you to consider faith. Have you ever considered that God loves you so much that He brought that person into your life to encourage you on your journey?

Now consider this: God loves your coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends so much that He brought you into their lives to help them along in their journey.

We need to simplify and get back to the basics. In order to relaunch as individuals, as families, and as leaders in our church, we have allowed God to guide us get rid of all that weighs us down so we can relaunch. I am no rocket scientist, but I have watched enough sci-fi movies to know, you cannot take everything you want to get off the ground. You have to prioritize. Some things you have to leave behind.

You were created by God to be fruitful!

To be transformed and to help others be transformed!

Take personal responsibility and connect to community.

Our broken world needs you to become who God has created you to be!

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