By Design: Circles


Do you know why we do Circles? In this message, we learn that Circles are where we steward God’s word in our lives.

Well, alright. Hey, everybody, welcome to Valley Creek. Come on, wherever you are today: Denton, Flower Mound, Gainesville, Lewisville, The Venue, online somewhere in the world, come on, let’s just welcome each other together. We are so glad you are here. Hope is here, everyone is welcome, Jesus changes everything. We are one church that meets at multiple campuses, that carries the hope of Jesus to thousands of locations. Hope is here because Jesus is here. And every week, you hear us say those same things. But do you know why we say them? You see, I think a lot of us know what we do, but we don’t always know why we do it.

But if this is your church, if you’re a part of family on mission, if this is your community of faith, then it’s important for you to know not just what we do but why we do what we do because the what is the action, the why is the heart. And there are a whole lot of things that we do around here, in fact, most of the things that we do around here, and they have a divine intentionality to them. There’s a divine design, a divine plan. It’s not just arbitrary, it’s something that we really believe in that we feel like is from the Lord. And so I want to start something new today just called By Design. And what I want to do is just do individual standalone weekends over the next year or so from time to time to just explain to you why we do some things the way that we do them, what’s the design behind it so that you can know the heart of who we are as a church. That makes sense, right?

Because I think we know what we do but why do we do it? Like for example, you might know what our logo is but do you know why our logo is shaped the way that it’s shaped? There is a divine design, a divine intentionality to this. What is it? It’s we want to be a Jesus-focused, spirit-filled, life-giving people. We are Jesus focused, more focused on what Jesus has done for us than what we have to do for him. We’re spirit-filled, meaning we want to walk in the character and the power of Jesus. And we’re life-giving on mission to receive and release the life of God wherever we go and we believe Jesus is the narrow gate that leads to an ever-widening life. And it’s green because green’s the color of life. Okay, how about this one? Do you know why we don’t pass an offering basket during service? If you’ve been in church for years, you probably know a customary tradition is to pass an offering basket, plate, cup, bowl, bag, a something. Why don’t we do that?

The reason we don’t do that is because we never want a lost, lonely or broken person who is coming in to try to find hope in Jesus to be confronted with something in the middle of service that they feel like God is demanding something from them when really God is here to give everything to them.

So we don’t want to put a barrier in anyone’s way and we believe that generosity is a response to receiving grace. This is why we don’t talk a lot about giving, we talk a lot about Jesus and grace because the normal response to receiving Jesus in his grace is to leave and live a lifestyle of generosity. In fact, that’s why in the Old Testament, Abraham, when he runs into the priest Melchizedek, which is an Old Testament picture of Jesus, Melchizedek blesses him and gives him bread and wine. Picture of the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus. And Abraham’s response was to tithe, give ten percent to Melchizedek, a preincarnate Jesus if you will.

And it’s a reminder that grace always leads us to a life of generosity. So we talk about grace believing that that’s going to move your heart to live a generous life. Okay, how about this? Do you know why we make such a big deal out of the next generation? Why do we always talk about kids and students and VCLA? Why are we always letting young people lead the way in any and every environment that we’re in? Why are we always, adults, giving up our opinions and our preferences so that we can reach the next generation? It’s because we don’t want to be a church for a generation, we want to be a church for generations. And we don’t want to be a firecracker that blows up in the sky and everybody oohs and awes it for a few moments, we want to be a long-burning flame that withstands the test of time. Okay, one more. Do you know why we make such a big deal out of worship? A lot of you know what we do, you’re like, that’s the church that always wants to worship.

Why? Because the Bible tells us God inhabits the praises of his people. So when we worship, he himself comes into this room and we believe the presence of God is the greatest change agent on the face of this earth. You see, there is a divine design, a divine intentionality, a divine plan behind almost everything we do around here. And some of you you’re incredibly intentional business people, incredibly intentional educators, incredibly intentional parents or students, you have a design for how you use your social media and yet for some reason when it comes to the church, we think everything the church does is just arbitrary. Do you understand the kingdom of God is the most divinely designed, divinely intentional, divinely planned thing in the universe? And so we have so many new people that have joined us over this past season and so many of us that have been here that honestly just forget that I just want to from time to time over the next year or so just share with you the whys we do some of the things that we do.

I love what Peter says. He says, “So I will always remind you of these things. Even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have, I think it is right to refresh your memory.” In other words Peter says, whether you know it or don’t, I don’t really care, it’s so important we’re going to talk about it again. That’s what Peter says. Why? Because the why is the heart. The what is the action, the why is the heart. And if this is your family on mission you need to understand the why. And I want to just start it this just one week. Next week, we will start a new series, but this week, just one week alone, I want to talk about why we do circles. Like a lot of you know what. You’re like, yeah, I get the what. I know what a circle is, a circle is three or more people who get together to discuss the weekend message, who engage the scriptures and pray together.

And we have circles that meet on campus and online and in the city. Circles for students and young adults and men and women and couples and all these things. But do you know why? Why do we do circles the way that we do them? It’s because we want to build a discipleship culture and this is one of the main strategies we believe God has given us. You see, in Matthew 28, Jesus says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the holy spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” This is our mandate, this is our mission. We’ve been commissioned by God as a people to go and make disciples. And what’s interesting about this is Jesus tells us what to do, go make disciples. He tells us when to do it, like right now go, now, go. So we know the what and we know the when but he doesn’t really tell us how to do it here, does he?

He doesn’t really give us a lot of details about how we’re actually supposed to go and do that. Like go make disciples right now, that’s the what and the when, but like how are we supposed to do that, Jesus? And I think what he’s doing is he’s inviting us into relationship with him to dream about the best way to disciple people, form them into the image and likeness of Jesus, to study the scriptures, to look at his ways and then to dream with him about what works best in our family with our DNA and our theology. And what we’ve come to the conclusion of is that circles are the best way to do it. And I think one day we’re going to stand before the Lord, we will all stand before the Lord someday and have to give an account on what we did with this command, how did we go and make disciples. And as Valley Creekers, you’ll be able to stand before the Lord and say, Lord, we did this thing called circles where we would preach on the weekend and then we get together, we discuss it, we engage the scriptures and we pray because we thought that was the most fruitful way to engage your word.
And all kinds of other people who weren’t a part of circles would be like, oh my goodness, that was such a good idea, we should have thought about that. And then we’ll look at them and they’ll go and they’ll say, Lord, here’s what we did and this was what we thought was the best. And as they share, we’ll look at them and we’ll be like, oh my goodness, that was such a good idea, we could use some of that in circles. And then someone else will go and they’ll say what they did and we’ll be like, you should have done circles, bro, that didn’t work. Right? Circles. But where did it come from? Here’s where it came from. For years in this church, we did small groups, Sunday school, life group, connect groups. Again, if you’ve been in church, you got some kind of context around that and we did something called the free market small group system. You say what is that? It sounds like a Wall Street investment strategy. It kind of is, free market, we just let anybody do kind of what they wanted to do within reason.

You want to do a Bible study? Do that. You want to do a curriculum? Do that. You want to read a book? Do that. You want to do DVDs, CDs, podcasts, what activity, whatever. We would let people gather around what they liked to do. In fact, here’s a little bit of tidbit for you, some of you don’t know this, I actually wrote my graduate project on the free market small group system. So if anybody believed in it, it was me. But after years of watching this, we were super disappointed because it wasn’t bringing forth the fruit that we wanted to see. It wasn’t bringing the deep transformation from the inside to the outside. So much content was being consumed and yet people’s lives weren’t changing. And then one day the Lord showed us Mark chapter 4 and it changed everything about what we do here. You see, in Mark chapter 4, I think it’s one of the most important chapters in the entire Bible, Jesus has a large crowd and his disciples and he’s teaching them in parables like he always does.

And he’s teaching them the parable of the sower, which is a familiar story. He says a farmer goes out to sow his seed and as he is sowing the seed some falls on the hard ground and because the ground is hard, birds quickly come and snatch away that seed. Some seed fell on the rocky soil and it quickly sprouted up but because the soil was shallow and there were rocks within it, when the sun came up the plant quickly was scorched and withered and died. Some seed, he said, fell on the thorny soil, among the thorns and thistles, and as the plant grew up the thorns and the thistles choked it out making it unfruitful. But some seed fell on the good soil and produced a thirty, sixty, hundredfold return. And then he says, “But he who has ears to hear, hear.” Service is over. And the crowd cheers and they clap and they applaud, that was so good, oh that was so good, I love listening — oh, he’s so good, it was so encouraging to my heart.

And then as they’re leaving, they’re probably saying things to each other like, where are we going for lunch and what time is the cowboys game on, and what do we have to do later today. But the disciples were not content. It was not over for the disciples. You see, the disciples were hungry for more. They needed to understand more than this great story that Jesus told. And they knew there was a deeper meaning, so they got together with Jesus as soon as the crowd had left and they sat down in a little circle and they said, Lord, we got to understand, you got to give us more than that. Explain it to us. And in Mark chapter 4, it says, “When he was alone, the crowd had left, the twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.” They’re sitting now in a circle talking about what Jesus just taught. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those on the outside, the crowd who just left, everything is said in parables.”

In other words, what Jesus is telling us here is that he teaches the crowd but he gives revelation to the disciples. That he teaches the message to the entire crowd but only disciples who are willing to pursue him, who are hungry for more, who are willing to get in a conversation with other disciples and him, gathered around the word of God, will actually experience revelation, the secrets of the kingdom, the mystery of the kingdom, the understanding of the kingdom. Jesus teaches the crowd, he gives revelation to disciples. And this is a life-changing understanding when you catch this. This is why you can come to church so many times and walk out and clap and cheer and say that was good, but it never produces fruit in your life. Why? Because you never actually got the secret, the mystery, the revelation.

You say what’s revelation? Revelation is just something that was hidden that is now uncovered. For example, if I put a big tarp over this monitor, it would be hidden to you. You wouldn’t see it. And I could spend 30 minutes, if this thing was all covered up, trying to teach you about the monitor, what a monitor looks like, what a monitor does, the size and shape of a monitor but then I could just grab the tarp, pull it off, and you’d be like, oh, the aha moment. Revelation. Well beyond teaching. Teaching is supposed to lead you to revelation and revelation is supposed to lead you to experience. And when you experience the things of God, you want more teaching, to get more revelation, to get more experience. And so as he’s sitting with them and he begins to explain it to them, he explains it to them and he says, “The farmer goes out to sow his seed. The seed is the word of God. And he said there’s four types of soils representative of four types of soil in the human heart. And he said the first heart is the hard heart.”

And when the word of God is spoken on a hard heart, this heart rejects it. This is the heart that’s been beat down by life, the heart that’s been walked upon by humanity and the brokenness of the world. This is the prideful heart, the rebellious heart, the heart full of skepticism and doubt and fear and pain and anger. And because it’s so hard, Satan comes and snatches the seed away at once. He goes on to say, the rocky soil or the rocky heart, this is a heart that receives it at once. They’re the person in the front row, clapping, cheering, excited about the whole thing, but the moment there’s any resistance, any uncomfortability, any inconvenience to actually applying that word to their life it quickly withers and dies. Why? Because they got rocks in there. Rocks of bitterness and offense, and ungodly beliefs, and disappointments that prevent the seed from growing.

And then he says there’s the divided heart. This is the heart that receives the word, it begins to grow and it looks really good from a distance because it’s leafy but there’s so many other things in that heart competing for the soil, the nutrients, the energy that it chokes it out and it never makes it fruitful. He said, and then there’s the good heart, the good soil that receives it and produces a thirty, sixty, hundredfold return. And what’s fascinating about what Jesus is teaching us is what he’s saying is it’s the same farmer, it’s the same seed, it’s the same environment, the only thing that’s different is the soil. So what Jesus is teaching us is that if we really want to see the word of God become fruitful in our life, we have to cultivate the soil of our heart. And no one can cultivate their own soil. This is why we get in circles.

Because it’s in circles we cultivate each other’s soil so that the same seed that was spoken into your life and my life can actually become fruitful. It’s in circles where we dig up the hard ground of the fear and the ungodly beliefs and the skepticism, where we can share our doubts and our fears and our brokenness. It’s where we remove the rocks of bitterness and offense and pain and fear so the seed can take root. It’s where we get rid of all the things that are competing for the attention of the word of God, and cut down those thorns and thistles so that the word of God can grow and become fruitful in Jesus’ name. We’ve got to have other people help us cultivate the soil of our heart is what Jesus is teaching us. That’s when it becomes revelation, that’s when it becomes fruitful, that’s when it begins to grow. Are you with me on this? And once we started to understand this, it changes everything because all of a sudden you start realizing, it’s the same seed that’s sown into every heart of every person that’s engaged with us right now. The only difference is the condition of the soil.

So we have to cultivate it. And this was Jesus’s model. With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, the crowd, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable, but when he was alone in a circle with his own disciples he explained everything. He taught the crowd, he gives revelation to the disciples, because disciples’ hearts are willing to be cultivated, so the word of God can become fruitful. If we ever want revelation beyond understanding, if we ever want insight beyond information, if we ever want wisdom beyond knowledge, we must start cultivating the soil of our hearts so the word of God will become fruitful. Hear me, the weekend experience is essential but it is not sufficient. This is essential, you need this in your life, I need it in my life, it’s not sufficient, it’s not enough.

Why? Because it doesn’t fully cultivate the soil of your heart so the seed can actually get in there and begin to grow. We do circles because circles are the way we steward God’s word in our life. It’s not an activity, it’s not an event, it’s not a church program, it’s not something we want to make you busy with. The last thing I ever want to do is make you busy. We do it so we can steward God’s word in our life. The problem is — are you with me so far? The problem is for a lot of us is we think growth comes by consuming more seed. I’m not growing so I just need more teaching. That’s the problem. The problem is the farmer and the problem is the word. No, the problem is the soil. I actually don’t need more seed, most of us have more seed in our life than we will ever be able to actually steward for the rest of the time we’re on this earth. The problem is not that you need more seed. In fact, you got to steward what you have before you’re worried about more.

In fact, look what Jesus says about the third type of soil, third type of heart. Here’s the one that always concerns me the most. The worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things come in and say this with me, choke the word making it unfruitful. The third type of soil, the divided heart, wants so many things that everything competes and chokes itself out. Like think about it like this, if you took ten seeds of corn and you planted them all in the exact same hole, what’s going to happen? They’re all going to sprout and then they’re going to kill each other and they’re all going to die. Why? Because they’re all competing for the same nutrients, same water, same air, same sun. You have a garden in your heart and there are so many things competing for the nutrients and the energy and the attention.

You have to make sure you create space for God’s word to actually begin to grow. Like let me give you an example. Let’s say it’s a Sunday, we’re all gathered together and we’re teaching about kingdom finances, what God has to say about money. And as you’re sitting here, that seed lands on your heart and you’re instantly convicted by it, you know God’s wanting you to respond to it. But on Monday you wake up and on Monday you’re in a Bible study on the book of Galatians. And then on Tuesday, you do a Jesus calling devotional and it’s all about having hope in hard times. And then on Wednesday, you’re in a small group and the small group is reading a book all about dealing with fear in a scary world. And then on Thursday, you listen to a Christian podcast on how to have a great marriage. And then on Friday, you’re in a business Christian small group reading the latest Christian living book. What is going to happen with that initial seed that was sown in your heart on Sunday?

All the other seeds that you just put in that same soil are all going to compete, they’re all going to come up, they’re all going to choke each other out and they’re all going to die. But the reason we like this one is it makes us feel good. I’m a good Christian. Do you know what I did on Monday? I did Galatians. You know what I did Tuesday? Jesus calling hope. And you know what I did — and it’s going to look all this activity, and we feel so good about ourselves from a distance but really what are we doing? We’re just ignoring the very word that God asked us to steward by over consuming other things. Are those things bad? No. You should be putting those into your life. But you have to make sure you’re stewarding the very thing that God has planted in you first. Or let’s say it’s Sunday and we’re teaching about forgiveness. And you’re sitting there and you’re like clapping, you’re like I know I got to forgive that person, I’m going to do it this week, this is my week, I’m going to happen. And you get to Thursday, but because you never cultivated the soil with anybody else, Thursday come, that person comes walking right at you and you’re like, boop, nope. Because in that moment it’s too uncomfortable and too inconvenient.

So what happened? That word in you just withered and got scorched and died. Or let’s say on a Sunday we’re talking about serving and living a life of mission and God has bigger purposes and plans for you, and you just sit here and you listen to it and on a Monday you wake up and the entire week all you do is listen to the world’s news, the world’s media, Spotify, Netflix, Facebook, Amazon, all those different things. What’s going to happen to that word? It’s snatched away and it’s gone. Are you with me? We got to steward it. We got to cultivate it. Like for example, let’s say you wake up and you decide one day you’re going to get really physically healthy. You’re going to eat right, you’re going to lose some weight, you’re going to get in shape. And so when that alarm clock goes off on that first 5AM morning to go to the gym, if no one is waiting for you outside or at the gym, are you going to go? Probably not. Why? Because if you already had a revelation about living healthy, you’d already be doing it.

So you actually need someone else to hold you accountable to make it happen. Does this make sense to you? Like students, if you get homework and you’re supposed to do the homework, but you know the teacher is not going to collect it, are you probably going to do that homework? No. Why? Because there’s no accountability in your life to make sure that truth is getting into your heart. This is what we need to do with the word of God and why we need each other. Let me try to illustrate it for you like this. This summer I had two giant bare spots of grass in my yard under these two trees that I have. And it was awful. Colleen was annoyed by it. She’s like, the neighbors got to hate us, like you got to do something about that. And so I told you a couple weeks ago that I’ve been dealing with a lot of neck and back pain, so I’m hurting, so I don’t want to do this thing. So I just buy one big bag of grass seed and I go out there and I just take the grass seed and I just do this, right? And because I’m hurting, I’m thinking, I’ll just throw a little bit of extra and it’ll be alright. Well, couple weeks go by, nothing.

And I’m like, it just needs more seed. So I go and get the same bag, I double down on how much seed I’m throwing on the ground. A couple weeks go by, nothing. Some of you are like, bro, you dumb. So finally I realized, I’m like I got to cultivate this soil. I got to dig it up. So I had to dig up the soil. I went and bought a couple bags of new soil to add to it, planted the seed and within like three days the grass began to grow. That is a great illustration of how I think so many of us live our life with God. We are convinced that we just need more seed, but we can scatter seed on your heart until Jesus returns but if the soil is not cultivated, ain’t nothing going to grow. And just like you laugh at me for being dumb to just be like I just keep doing it.

Same seed, same bag of seeds, same farmer. Come on, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. Catch it, you need someone to plant, you need someone to water and God will make it grow. You’re getting planted right now, God longs to make it grow. It’s not on God, He wants to make it grow. The real question is you have anybody watering the seed, cultivating it, turning it, fertilizing it, weeding it? That’s what we need. This is what’s the difference between someone who is sitting here and grows and the person sitting next to him that does not. It’s not God’s desire and it’s not the planting, it’s the watering. This is the difference between seasons you are growing and seasons you aren’t growing. It’s not the seed and it’s not God, it’s we’ve stopped inviting people to carve up the hard spots of our heart, to remove the rocks of bitterness and offense and fear and ungodly beliefs, to get rid of the things that we’re chasing in this world that are competing with the word of God and choking it out.

Does this make sense to you? See, I think sometimes we forget the power of a single seed, the power of a single word of God. The same voice that spoke the universe into existence, the same voice that called light out of darkness, the same voice that called the dead man from the grave, the same voice that cleansed the lepers with his words, the same voice that gave sight to the blind man is the same voice that’s speaking to you, taking that seed and planting it in your life. And he promises in Isaiah 55 that his word will not return void but will accomplish the purposes for which he sent it. He promises in 2 Timothy 3 that, “All scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness so that the man or woman of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

He promises in Hebrews 4:12 that, “His word is living and active: sharper than any double-edged sword, dividing between soul and spirit.” He promises in John 6:63 that, “The words I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” There is power, power in a single seed. But if we treat that seed as common, we will get common results. When you start treating it as supernatural, you’ll get supernatural results. When you see it as something to steward, all of a sudden you’ll start having ideas you never had before. You’ll have dreams you never dreamed before. You’ll have wisdom you never had before. You’ll have solutions to problems that you know are heavenly wisdom because you could have never come up with it on your own.

It’s the power of a single seed. In fact, this is why he says, “Others like seed, a single seed sown, on good soil, soil, the heart that’s been cultivated hear the word accepted and produce a crop thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.” One seed can give you a hundred times of heavenly wisdom in your life. Come on, think about it like this. If I told you if you took all your money and you invested it in this one thing, I guarantee you, you will get a hundred times return, every one of you would take me up on that. Imagine if you had a million dollars and I could promise you a hundred times return, you would be — take a million dollars, you put in that environment so fast because you would end up with a 100 million dollars and that’s life changing. A single word from God can give you a hundred times heavenly wisdom. Don’t you think that’s a little more life-changing?

Some of you are like, yeah, the 100 million. But if you would do it with money, why wouldn’t you do it with the supernatural word of God? The problem for a lot of us with circles is we’re looking for things like this, we’re like, oh man, are these going to be my girls that I can have girls night with? Or are these my golfing buddies? Or students like, are they in the cool? Are they my cool? Like are they as cool as me? Don’t look for that. Look for someone who can cultivate the soil of your heart to get a hundred times return of what’s been sown into your life. Like think about it like this. Have you ever talked to somebody and as you’re talking to them you know they’re not listening to you anymore? Yeah, it happens to me every Sunday.

It’s funny. But if you’ve ever been talking to somebody and you know they stopped listening and they’re like, they go start the phone or they’re like looking past you or they’re totally distracted, what happens?

You just kind of stop talking, right? Because you know they’re not listening. But have you ever talked to somebody and they’re so engaged with you that they start asking you questions like what does that make you think? How does that make you feel? And tell me more. And you find yourself saying things you had never planned to say? I mean catch this Proverb, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” The purpose in your heart, it’s deep water and someone who wants to understand, wants to know you, wants to discover more will keep asking questions and draw the deep things up to the surface. Apply this first to God. The purpose of God’s heart is deep water and a man of understanding will draw it out. It’s almost like on Sunday the seed sown into your life is the beginning of the conversation.

And if you want to keep listening and keep drawing and keep understanding, then you move into an environment where you get with God and you say, God, tell me, what does that make you think? How does that make you feel? Tell me more. And that’s when revelation is released into your life. Does that make sense? I mean catch this, wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom. Though it costs you all you have, get understanding. Wisdom, revelation, insight, understanding, the aha moment is supreme. We think other things are supreme. We think finances is supreme, so we spend our life chasing finances, but here’s the deal, you can have all the finances in the world, that 100 million dollars, but if you don’t have wisdom you don’t know how to steward that 100 million dollars. Wisdom will teach you not only how to make money but how to actually steward it.

Some of us think a loving relationship is supreme and that’s what we spend our life chasing. Here’s the only problem, if you don’t have wisdom, your insecurity and your brokenness is going to destroy that loving relationship. Wisdom will teach you how to be a person of love. Or how about a lot of us think personal happiness is supreme so we chase our lives after personal happiness. The problem is if you don’t have wisdom, you’ll never be able to maintain that happiness but wisdom will teach you how to live a joyfully, contented life. Wisdom, revelation, the hundredfold return of God’s word and it will cost you something. Why? Because he teaches the crowd, he gives revelation to the disciples who are hungry for more. You say why? Look what he goes on to say, “After he does the whole parable, he says, ‘Do you bring in a lamp and put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead don’t you put it on it stand for whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open? If anyone has ears to hear let him hear.’”

Here’s what he’s saying, he’s saying he wants to share with you all the mysteries, revelation and insight of heaven. What’s a lamp? Your word is a lamp unto my feet. It’s a picture of the word of God. And whatever is hidden he wants to — he wants to share with you. In John 15 when he’s sitting in the circle with his disciples, he says, “I no longer call you servants, I call you friends for a servant does not know his master’s business but everything I learned from the Father I have revealed to you.” Every piece of wisdom, revelation, insight, supernatural experience in the kingdom of God he wants to share with you. But with who? Those who are listening. He speaks to those who are listening. He feeds those who are hungry. He gives water to those who are thirsty.

You say why doesn’t He just give the revelation to everyone who shows up? Because He knows we’re responsible to steward that revelation. And unused revelation will harden your heart. In other words, it’s His grace to not give revelation to someone who doesn’t want it and won’t use it because they will be held accountable for it and it will harden their heart even more. So in His grace, He scatters the seed hoping it creates a hunger within you to lean in for more, to continue the conversation as a way of grace and protection over your life because the person sitting next to you may not want to steward this, and it may be making their heart harder. And God in His goodness is always setting people free. Come on, last verse, this is what he says right after that, “Consider carefully what you hear. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you–and even more. Whoever has will be given more. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

In other words, whatever you do with what you hear — with whatever you do with what you have heard will determine what you hear. However you steward the seeds that have been sown into your life will determine what God will continue to speak to you in the future. You steward it well, He’ll give you even more. You reject it, treat it as commonplace, He actually removes that which you already have. Come on, how many times have you had a revelation on something, a divine insight and you’re so excited it was life-changing, it was so impactful to you at the time but you never fully steward it and so a month, a week, a year, five years later you completely lost it? You don’t even remember it, right? You say thirty, sixty, a hundredfold, what is that? It’s the expanding revelation. Thirtyfold would be Jesus has forgiven me. Sixtyfold is he has credited my account and now I am righteous and holy and have his favor.

A hundredfold is I’m included in Christ and everything that’s true about him is now true of me. Thirtyfold is one day when I die I can go to heaven in Jesus’ name. Sixtyfold is I actually have the authority to bring the realities of heaven to this earth. A hundredfold is I am currently living in the kingdom of God right now. Thirtyfold is I can cry out to God in my suffering and trials. Sixtyfold is God is with me in my suffering and trials. A hundredfold is God is using my suffering and my trials for my good and His glory.

Don’t settle for thirty when God offers you a hundred. And the difference is not the seed, the difference is the soil. And I know some of you are sitting here and you probably walked in and you’re like, bro, this is so irrelevant to my life, you have no idea what I’m going through.

Actually, this is the most relevant thing to your life. Why? Because the word is Jesus. In the beginning was the word the word was with God and the word was God. So when the word is sown into our life and we steward it, we’re actually cultivating a heart that allows a hundredfold return of Jesus’s wisdom, of Jesus’s nature, of Jesus’s grace and truth, of Jesus’s character. If you’re hurting, that’s what you need. But you can’t cultivate the soil of your own heart. Circles are not a church activity, they’re not an obligation, it’s not an event, it’s a lifestyle of people who want to get together to maximize the word of God in their life because they believe it is supernaturally powerful and want to receive a hundredfold return.

This is by design. It’s God’s design, it’s God’s intentionality, it’s God’s plan that we wouldn’t consume seed but that we would allow seed to be planted, cultivated to become fruitful because what is ultimately in fruit? More seed. So when you produce a hundredfold return of any given area in your life, it’s full of fruit. When that fruit drops to the ground in your heart, it has new seed in it that begins to grow. And this is how all of a sudden, over time, you wake up one day and you are a completely different person. Why? Because God is making it grow at a whole another level because you’re willing to steward that which is supernatural and not common but incredibly important in your life and mine.

This is why we do circles and why we hope every person will eventually get in one, so the word of God will flourish and transform you from the inside out. So close your eyes with me. Come on, what’s God saying to you today with the seed that’s been scattered on your heart? What’s the invitation? What’s that whisper saying to you? The good news is that in Jesus there’s no shame, there’s no condemnation.

He’s probably not even wanting to talk to you about the past, he’s probably wanting to say like right now, like I have so much more revelation to give you, about who I am and who you are, and what you are created to do, and how to walk through school in a difficult season, how to raise your children in a challenging world, how to find significance and purpose in the marketplace, how to get rid of that anxiety or that depression or that fear, has so much more to say. But we have to steward it. And I get you, maybe you’re like, circles, not for me. That’s cool. Here’s my question that I would leave you with then is, how do you steward the word of God in your life?

Because today, we all have a word that’s been put into our heart. What do you do with it so that it becomes fruitful and doesn’t get snatched away, withered and scorched or choked out? I need people in my life cultivating my heart in my circle and I believe you do too. So Holy Spirit, thank you for the word of grace, the word of Jesus. May we be a church that stewards your word. May it never be cheap or commonplace. May it become supernatural and may it produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, a hundredfold return in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

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