“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:23)
The concept of bearing fruit is used often in Scripture. In the Gospels, Jesus told the story of a sower who went out to sow seed. The seed fell on various types of ground. Some of the ground was rocky and hard. Other ground was receptive, but weeds choked out the seed.
But there was a portion of ground that was neither rocky nor weedy, and in that soil the seed took root. Jesus said that this was a picture of the different people who hear the gospel. Those who are true believers will bring forth fruit (Luke 8:15).
What is bearing fruit? Essentially, it is becoming like Jesus. Spiritual fruit will show itself in our lives as a change in our character and outlook. As we spend time with Jesus and get to know Him better, His thoughts will become our thoughts. His purpose will become our purpose. We will become like Jesus.
What does spiritual fruit look like?
The Bible gives an excellent description of a life characterized by the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says:
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely (THE MESSAGE).
Is that what others see in your life? If not, then either you don’t know God or you are living outside of fellowship with Him. If that is the case, then a commitment or a recommitment to Him would be in order. God isn’t asking for a perfect life. But He is asking that this spiritual fruit be a primary characteristic of a life that is lived for Him.
Tonight is the first night of the 21st Southern California Harvest and I am really looking forward to it!
Sometimes, people ask me if I ever get tired of doing these events. The answer is no! I love to proclaim the gospel and see people come to the Lord.
Tonight, I will be joined at Angel Stadium by the Katinas, Crystal Lewis, and the David Crowder Band. It all starts at 7:00 P.M.
Who is Jesus?
I will be speaking on the topic of who Jesus really was, and why He came to this earth in the first place.
To this day, Jesus Christ is the most controversial figure who has ever lived. He is loved, adored, worshiped, and followed by some. He is hated, despised, and rejected by others. He is disregarded and ignored by most.
So, who exactly is Jesus Christ?
Watch or listen live
You can come and join us live, or watch the live webcast here. You can also hear it on the radio live locally on KFSH (95.9 FM).
I will be sending text updates throughout the Harvest Crusade weekend.
Get prayer requests, event information, results, and more.
Text “Greg” at 55678 now to start.
Theses are free texts from Harvest, but your individual text plan charges apply.
The Southern California Harvest starts tomorrow! Hopefully, you have either invited someone, or are getting ready to extend that invitation.
Remember that there are many ways you can attend. Of course, you can come in person. Secondly, you can watch it online at harvest.org. We will live stream it in HD, and it will be available for later viewing in our video archives.
As you share your faith, you may be bombarded with a lot of questions. One of the common questions that they will ask is, “What about the person who has never heard the gospel?” Usually, the question comes with a reference to someone in some Stone Age tribe in the far reaches of the Amazon.
God will not hold us accountable for what we don’t know
First, let’s be honest. The person who asks this question is probably not really concerned about that tribesman in the Amazon. He or she just doesn’t want to hear about personal responsibility before a holy God, and is trying to throw you off track with a “smokescreen” question. The truth is that God will judge us according to the “light we have received.” We will not be held accountable for what we do not know.
God will hold us accountable for what we do know.
At the same time, we still bear responsibility for our own actions. That’s because we, as humans, no matter where we live on God’s earth, were born with “eternity in our hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), a sense that life should have meaning and purpose. We were born with a soul, an inner emptiness that only God can fill.
And yet, in spite of an internal compass that points us toward God, we have gone our own way, turning against the what little we know to be true. As the apostle Paul wrote:
But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively.God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. (Romans 1:18-20 NLT)
“I live by my own standards!”
Some would say, “Well, I have my own standards that I live by, and they’re basically good.” But if we are honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we don’t even live up to our own standards. We continually violate the things that we know to be true, which makes us guilty of our own laws.
As the apostle Paul writes: “He will punish sin wherever it is found. He will punish the heathen when they sin, even though they never had God’s written laws, for down in their hearts they know right from wrong. God’s laws are written within them; their own conscience accuses them” (Romans 2:12-14 TLB).
The reality is that if a person is truly seeking God, the Lord will reveal Himself to them. God promises, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart I will be found by you” (Jeremiah 29:13).
True seekers will be finders
In the Book of Acts, we read of a Roman centurion named Cornelius. A very religious man who prayed and sought God, he had been asking God to reveal Himself to him. God answered Cornelius’ prayer and sent Peter to preach the gospel to him. When Cornelius heard that wonderful message, he believed and brought everyone in his household along with him!
That’s because he was a true seeker of God, and that is what the Lord will do for the person who is honestly pursuing Him.
Perhaps God would use you to be like Peter was to Cornelius. The Bible asks, “How will they hear unless someone tells them?”
Do you ever feel as though you are not “worthy” enough to approach God in prayer?
If so, then read this Scripture:
His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to! Now all praise to God for his wonderful kindness to us and his favor that he has poured out upon us because we belong to his dearly loved Son. (Ephesians 1:5-6 TLB)
What God has done for us
So often, we hear about what we are supposed to do for God. But the emphasis of the Bible is not so much on what we are supposed to do for God, but rather on what God has done for us.
If we can get hold of that in our minds and hearts, it will change our outlook and actions. The more we understand of what God has done for us, the more we will want to do for Him.
This is no small truth. In fact, it’s fundamental to our spiritual lives.
The devil would love to keep you from praying at all by reminding us how “unworthy” we are—telling us, in effect, that we have a lot of nerve to even think that we could approach a holy God. He whispers, “Do you think that God would hear your prayers after what you have done?” But the real question to ask is this: “Is Jesus Christ worthy to come into the presence of the Father whenever He wants?” Of course, He is.
“Accepted in the Beloved”
The fact is that we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). Because Christ has open access to the presence of the Father at any time, we have the same access when we come to God the Father through our relationship with Jesus. It’s not on the basis of what we have done for God. It is solely on the basis of what Christ has done for us.
Listen to the writer to the Hebrews:
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. This is the new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us through the sacred curtain, by means of his death for us. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s people, let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. (Hebrews 10:19-21 NLT)
I just can’t imagine any better news than that.
Guess what? The Southern California Harvest is only 15 days away!
So, to prepare you, as you seek to invite friends and family to Angel Stadium, I will speak tonight on the topic of “Answering Difficult Questions That Non-Believers Ask.”
We have all heard the questions before:
- “How do you know the Bible is the Word of God?”
- “How could a God of love send someone to hell?”
- “Why does God allow suffering?”
The list goes on . . . We will deal with these questions and more in my message from the Crossover series.
To find out more about where it is, click here.
This weekend, Dinesh D’Souza will be our special guest speaker.
Dinesh is one of the leading thinkers and speakers in the country today. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, and National Review. He has appeared on TV programs, such as The Today Show, Nightline, The O’Reilly Factor, and many others. He speaks at top universities and churches across the nation every year, and has also debated many atheists, including Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.
He has written a number of books including: What’s So Great About America?, What’s So Great About Christianity?, and Life After Death-The Evidence.
This Sunday morning, He will speak, and I will interview him and ask him those hard questions that non-believers ask, as a part of our Crossover series.
If you have questions you would like to ask, e-mail them to Greg@harvest.org.
You can come and join us in person for one of our services, which will be at 7:45 A.M., 9:45 A.M., 11:45 A.M., and 5:00 P.M. You can also watch the live webcast at Harvest.org.
This Sunday at Harvest, I want to to talk about how to share your faith with others. This is part of a four-message series that will lead right up to our 21st Southern California Harvest, August 6-8, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
We will be talking about how to crossover into our culture with the essential gospel message. But as we do that, we want to be sure we bring the cross over. In other words, we need to tell people about the death and resurrection of Jesus and His power to save them from their sins.
In my first message from this series, I spoke about the who, where, why, and when of sharing the gospel.
Who is called to go into all the world and preach the gospel?
Answer: We are.
Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
BTW, in the original language, these words are given to everyone. Not just to pastors, evangelists, and missionaries, but to everyone.
Also, in the original language, they are a command. You are commanded by the Lord Himself to do this. There are no exceptions.
Where are we to preach the gospel?
In Mark’s Gospel, we have a variation on this Great Commission: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature'” (Mark 16:15).
Think of it this way. Jesus is essentially saying, “Go into all of your world and preach the gospel. Into your family, your workplace, your campus, your neighborhood, your sphere of influence.”
Why do we need to preach the gospel?
Answer: Because God’s primary way of reaching people is through people!
The apostle Paul reminds us of this when he writes: “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).
The primary way God reaches people is through people. And the main way we do that is through verbal communication.
But there is another reason we tell others about Jesus.
Because we care. We don’t want to see them spend eternity in hell, separated from God.
How are we to do this?
Now, this is where the rubber meets the road. And this is where it falls apart for many people: making that connection with the non-believer and having a conversation.
There is no better example of how to do evangelism than Jesus Christ Himself. He was the Master Communicator. And one story that shows this beautifully is Jesus and the woman at the well.
More to come on this topic at Harvest this Sunday.
You can join us in person or watch the webcast live at Harvest.org.
Crossover is the name of my new series that I am starting this Sunday at Harvest in Riverside and this Thursday at Harvest in Orange County.
In this new series, leading up to the 21st Southern California Harvest, August 6-8, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, I’ll share tools with you found in the pages of Scripture that will enable you, if you choose to use them wisely, to help respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading to lead others to Christ.
This Sunday, we are going to talk about “The Why, Who, When, and How of Evangelism.”
In our next message, we will deal with the what of sharing our faith.
In the third week, we will have one of the leading apologists today, Dinesh D’Souza, as our special guest in the pulpit. Dinesh has debated atheists, from Richard Dawkins to Christopher Hitchens, on major university campuses around the country.
Hard questions answered
We will deal with questions like:
- “How can you be sure there is a God?”
- “How could a God of love allow tragedy?”
- “How do you know the Bible is true?”
- “What about evolution?”
- And much more.
Why share our faith?
My final message in the series will deal with the how of bringing others to Christ.
But this Sunday, we will talk about the why of evangelism. Why is it important to share our faith?
We will also have special music from the outstanding Christian band Leeland at all four services.
“A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (John 10:10 THE MESSAGE).
Interest in life on Mars seems to run in cycles. As I write this, our nation has a new robot prowling around and digging little holes in the dirt near the Martian north pole.
A few years ago, when I was interviewed for an article about life on other planets, I said, “I don’t see anything in the Bible that would indicate there is life on other planets, but if there is, God created it.”
They closed the article with another of my statements: “Maybe we shouldn’t be so worried about life on other planets and ask ourselves the question, ‘Is there life on Earth, and are we living it the way God wants us to?’”
Is there life during life?
We often wonder if there is life after death. But is there life during life? That is a question we should all consider.
When I was 17, that was my question. I wasn’t so concerned with what happened beyond the grave, because I thought I would live a long, long time. My primary concern at that time was, “What’s life all about? What’s the purpose of life?” I knew in my heart that there had to be more than what I’d experienced to that point. I was desperately searching for some kind of meaning in life. I just had to know.
There are people still searching.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to look very far, because there was a group of very outspoken Christians on my high school campus. They practiced what they preached, and I was intrigued by them. So I began to watch them. I saw that they were experiencing a dimension of life that I had never known
Not long after that, I gave my life to Jesus and discovered the truth of Jesus’ great statement from John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” That’s what I had been searching for: life during life.
Ask the Lord to point you toward someone today who may be searching for that very thing.