Craig Groeschel - One Word That Will Change Your Life
If you could choose a one word goal to achieve in life, what one word would you choose? If there was one word that would represent your character, your nature, one word that would summarize what you stand for in life. What one word would you choose? Well, I ask some people, I talk to people on the street. I ask some friends and I got a long list of words. Three of the more common words that people said that they would like to summarize their life, were good words. One of the words was successful, which I actually like. Successful, influential and a third word we got was happy.
I'd like to be successful, which God does make people successful. I hope you're successful in all you do. The word influential is good. We're called to be salt and light ambassadors. Making a difference in this world. Influential is a good word. Some people said, I wouldn't want to just be influential, but I wanna be happy. Another word for that is to be blessed or to be fulfilled in life.
And those are some good words, but I believe that there is one word that in God's eyes should stand above all of the rest, because when we get to heaven, if we live a life that pleases God, what he won't say is well done my good and successful servant. He won't say, well done my good and influential servant. He won't say well done my good and happy servant. But what Jesus would say to us is well done my good and faithful servant. If there is one word that should stand above the rest, I believe we should strive to be faithful. Would you look at your neighbor today and say, you're looking faithful today. You're looking faithful today. The title of today's message is: One Word That Will Change Your Life.
Father, we ask today that by the power of your spirit and the truth of your word that you would stir within us, empower us to be faithful to you and all that we do. We pray this to our savior Jesus and all God's people said. Amen. Amen and amen.
I'm excited to share God's Word with you today. We are in a message series that's called pre decide and we're talking about the power of our decisions because we know that the quality of our decisions determine the quality of our lives. The problem is that many us are not very good decision makers. So instead of waiting for the heat of the moment, when we're faced with different situations, we're asking God to help us pre decide what we'll do in certain situations. In fact, we have kind of a little saying that we're doing, we're looking at different areas in life and we're saying whenever we're faced with such and such situation, we are pre-deciding to take a specific action. We're not waiting until we're in the middle of the moment to respond emotionally, but we're letting the Word of God, the power of God ,lead us to make decisions that would actually please God, we're pre-deciding.
And there are six specific areas that we're focusing on in this message series to determine who we are going to be. We're pre-deciding that I am. Let's start with ready and I need all 39 Life.Churches to do this with us. If you're watching online, say it aloud wherever you are, what are we gonna be? We'll start with ready. So say I am what I am, ready, I am consistent. I am devoted. I am generous. I am faithful. And I am a finisher. One more time. Who are we going to be? I am ready. I am consistent. I am devoted. I am generous. I am faithful. And I am a finisher. Today, we're gonna look at the theme of faithfulness. Somebody say, I am faithful. What are you? I am faithful.
And the reason we're pre-deciding to be faithful is because we're never accidentally going to be consistently faithful. There is no way that day in and day out, week in, week out, month in, month out, year in, year out, decade in and decade out that we will consistently be faithful without intentionality. And the reason that we find it difficult to be faithful is call it what it is, can I be this honest is because the trajectory of our life is toward what's easy. The trajectory of our life is toward what is convenience and being faithful, especially faithful to God and doing what is right, is rarely easy. It's often hard. It comes with a cost, but it's always worth it.
In fact, to establish our tone for today, I'm gonna look at God's Word from the prophet, Habakkukin the Old Testament who said this in 2:4. He said, "look at the proud". Do any of, you know, someone who's proud? Raise your hand Don't point at them. Don't elbow them. We want you to leave friends today. Look at the proud, what do they do? They trust in themselves and their lives are crooked. What do they do? They trust in their own wisdom, they trust in their own knowledge, they trust in their own righteousness, they trust in their own goodness, they trust in their own bank account, They trust in their own abilities. They trust in themselves because they're proud and their lives are crooked, but the righteous will do what, let's say it aloud, but the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.
Look at the proud. Unfortunately, I am often the proud. I'm often the one who thinks I can do it on my own. I'm often the one who tries to be good enough. I'm often the one who tries to be self sufficient. Look at the proud, scripture says, "They trust in themselves and their lives are crooked". So I am intentionally deciding not to be proud, but to be righteous because the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. Now that raises a question. What does it mean to be faithful? How do we practically live that out? If you would've asked me before? I would've thought, well that means like you don't cheat on your spouse and you don't cheat on your taxes and you try to be a good person and all that would be true. But when you look at how Jesus talked about faithfulness, he took a very different approach to faithfulness than what most of us would recognize.
In fact, if you do a word study on each time, Jesus mentioned the word faithful. You will see that he had three different categories and only three categories, whenever he talked about faithfulness. He talked about faithfulness and how you treat people. He talked about faithfulness and you steward resources. And he talked about faithfulness and how you respond to God. Look at when Jesus talked about faithfulness and it was always about relationships to people. It was about taking care of resources and it was about responding to God. So in response to the values of Jesus on faithfulness, if we are going to be faithful, we're going to pre-decide three things.
The first thing, say it with me, is this, we're gonna pre-decide that every interaction is an opportunity to add value. We're faithful in our relationships. Our second decision is this, say it with me. Every resource is an upper opportunity to multiply because Jesus defines faithfulness is how we steward what he trusts to us. The third decision is this, that every prompting, say it with me, is an opportunity to obey God. Because every time Jesus talked about faithfulness, he talked about how you treat people, how you steward resources and how you respond to God. If we are going to be faithful, we're going to pre-decide that every interaction with every person we have is an opportunity to add value.
What does that mean? That means for you, wherever you go, every person you meet, everyone that you see is an opportunity to bless, is an opportunity to encourage, is an opportunity to be generous, is an opportunity for you to add value into their life. We're going to pre-decide that every person we see is an opportunity for us to show the love of God in a way that brings value and blessing in their life. And the reason, that we pre-decide is because we will never add value consistently, accidentally. And the reason we won't is because we are ridiculously focused on ourselves. We all are. I am, and you are, and I can prove it to you. All you have to do is look at a photo of eight people that you are in. If you are in a photo with eight people, who is the first person you look at in the photo, and the answer is you. And if it's a good picture of you, what kind of photo is it? It is a dang good photo. If you are blinking in the photo, it's unstoppable. And if someone post it, they do not love you because you look at you first.
It's the same thing when you interact with people, when you talk to people and you're, what are you thinking in your mind? You're thinking, do they like me? Was I stupid. Should I not have said that? When you walk away, you're analyzing, why did I say that? Did I embarrass myself? What if, instead of saying, will they like me? What if instead, because Jesus lives in you, you pre-decide every time you interact with someone, rather than being self focused and said, you're you focused. you say, I'm gonna add value you to your life. I'm gonna be a blessing to you in all that I do. This is a form of faithfulness to God. In fact scripture said it this way in Ephesians chapter four, the apostle Paul said, "Don't let any unwholesome talk, come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, for adding value, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen".
I love this. To be faithful to God, you're gonna add value to people. In other words, when you walk into a room, the climate improves. You're an encourager. You're someone who's a blessing. When you tell the truth, you always tell the truth in love. The people are gonna be better. They're gonna have more faith. They're gonna be more blessed because you were in there. You add value to people's lives. And that is actually the faithfulness to God. In fact, when you look at what Jesus did and how he treated people, think about the words Jesus said, and think about what Jesus did.
When the disciples were maybe worried, what did Jesus not say? Jesus, didn't say, well, you better worry 'cause the world's going to hell on a ham basket. Do you see he's in office right now? Have you read the news today? Things are bad and they're gonna get worse. Now, what did Jesus say? He said, hey, don't worry about what you're gonna eat or drink or the clothes you're gonna wear because your heavenly father cares about you so much. He cares about the birdies. Certainly cares about you. Today has enough to worry about just seek first, the kingdom of God and his righteousness. And then it'll add everything unto you.
Think about when a woman sinned and was caught in adultery. What did Jesus say to her? What did he do? He didn't say shame on you you pathetic person and turned his back on her. No, he knelt down in the sand and wrote something in the sand. We don't know what it was, but the other self-righteous men they walked away and Jesus looked at the woman with love and said, where are your accusers? And she said, there are none. And he said with love in his heart, then neither do I accuse you. Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, don't sin anymore. Just go and be righteous and be free. When Peter, think about this, denied Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times. What did Jesus do? Say you're canceled. Can't trust you? No. What did Jesus do? He said, "hey, do you still love me? Then go feed my sheep. Go do my will. Go show my love. He forgave gracefully". What did Jesus say? He said, "hey, I came to show the love of my father. I'll never leave you, I'll never forsake. You can do greater things when I go away because I'm sending the Holy Spirit to be with you".
Every interaction with anyone, you show the love of God, you build up, you show grace, you are a blessing and you have no idea how God might use a single word of encouragement to change someone's life. That is faithfulness to God. In fact, it's very emotional for me to think about this. Let me tell you the very reason I'm here today. And the only reason I'm here today, because my pastor, Nick Harris, who you know and love, added value into my life. If you've been in our church for a long time, you know that I was rejected for ordination my first time through, that's embarrassing. It's embarrassing. To the best of my knowledge, I may be the only person in Oklahoma that was rejected from a group that needed pastors. And I was turned down and devastated and drove my little red Geo Prizm back to church and was crying my eyes out mostly because I got rejected. But partially because I was rejected in driving a red Geo Prizm, I'll be honest, you know?
And I threw myself onto my pastor's desk. Like literally the full weight of my body was on his desk. And my pastor looked at me and said, Craig, listen to me, please listen to me, please listen to me. And he said, these words, he said, no man can stop what God calls you to do. And that's the very reason I'm here today. That's the very reason. So I'm here today. And what I want you to know is that one of the ways you can be faithful to God is by being a blessing to people. And you could do that today. Meaning you may not get offline without reaching out to someone or may not get outta the building you're in without a divine assignment to reach out to someone and you have no idea how God might use a single word of encouragement to change someone's life. I am faithful. I pre-decide that every interaction with a person is an opportunity to show love, to be a blessing and to add value.
A second way that we're gonna be faithful to God is we're pre-deciding that every resource is an opportunity to multiply. Every resource is an opportunity to multiply. In fact, in Matthew's gospel, Matthew 25, Jesus told a parable about a man that went on a journey and trusted his wealth to his servants. He gave bags of gold, one guy. He gave five bags of gold and one guy gave two bags of gold. And one guy, he gave one bag of gold and the first two went out and put their gold to work. They risked it, they invested and they doubled what they had. And according to scripture in verse 21, the master replied to them, "well done". "Well done my good and faithful servant". You've been faithful with a few things and I'll put you in charge of many things. You multiplied what I gave you and in the Kingdom of God, that is faithfulness.
In fact, the Greek word, this translated as faithful is a ridiculously cool word, is the word pistos. And this word means this, here's a literal definition. It is persons who show themselves faithful in the transactions of business, the execution of commands or the discharge of official duties, is people that are faithful in business. How about this? One of the ways you can be faithful to God is simply by caring for what God gives you, by multiplying it. God gives you an ugly yard and you make it a better yard. That's faithfulness. God gives you a clunker of a car and you have the cleanest clunker on the road. God gives you a body and you take care of your body. That's faithfulness to God.
If you are in business... One thing I've noticed is that sometimes people, Christians who are in business almost feel like second class citizens, because they don't feel like they're in ministry. How many of you don't work in ministry or in some form of business, raise your hands, raise 'em up high. High, I just wanna see if there's more of you than that. Think about this. Being good in business is one of the most God honoring things you can do. It really is. To create something that adds value to bless someone else, to being a good leader, to leading with integrity, to those of you who are business owners to take a little and risk it and multiply it and make more and create more jobs and be a person of integrity who treats people well.
Listen, you can fast, or you can pray or you can be a missionary or you can read the Bible or you can teach three year olds the Bible, or you can be a God honoring business person. And that is just as faithful to God as fasting or reading your Bible. It is faithfulness to God when you multiply resources. And this is why at Life.Church, we are ridiculously passionate about stewarding resources well, that when you give, we manage to create margins so we can lead the way with irrational generosity, because we truly believe it's more blessed to give than receive giving to local missions and giving to global missions and funding the YouVersion Bible app free to over a half a billion people around the world and starting new church after new church, after new church. It's God honoring to multiply and steward what he's given you. And Jesus says that is faithful.
Then there was the one guy with the one bag who was afraid. And I actually feel for that guy because there've been times when I've been afraid to make a mistake and watch what the master says to him. The poor old boy says, "I was afraid and I went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here's what belongs to you. And his master replied, you wicked lazy servant". Here's what I want you to see and here's what I want you to feel. To the one who multiplied what was given the master said, you are faithful. To the one who buried it, he wasn't just lazy, scripture says he was wicked. He was wicked. We're gonna choose to be faithful. Every interaction is an opportunity to add value. Every resource is an opportunity to multiply and every prompting is an opportunity to obey God. Every prompting is an opportunity to obey God.
I love Acts chapter 20:22 when Paul, he was really happy where he was. I think it was in Ephesus and he had this emotional farewell and he said, and now compelled by the spirit, the words in the Greek are Deo ho num. That means to be wrapped up like bound with chords. He's like I'm being drawn to this and being, being compelled by the spirit. He said, I'm going to Jerusalem not knowing what will happen to me there. I can't explain it. I don't understand it. I don't know the details. I just know that I'm being drawn. When you follow Jesus, he will prompt you. He will compel you and faithfulness is responding, even when you don't know what will happen.
I'll tell you two stories, personal stories. The first one is about our friend, I'll call Dave, but it's not his real name. But Amy and I were in another part of the world. We did several days of ministry. We had a half a day off and there was a beach 30 minutes from our apartment, a 30 minute walk. And so with a half a day off, we fast walked to the beach and sat down. And the moment we sat down, I felt prompted to call my friend David. And I said, "Amy I feel like I'm supposed to call him". She said, well, call him. I said, "my phone's back in the room". She said, "we'll go back to the room". 30 minutes back to the room. I called him. And when I did, I forgot about the time zone difference because we were in a different part of the world. I called him. It was midnight his time. And he picked up the phone and he said, very emotionally, he didn't say hello, he said, "why are you calling me now"? And I was like, "oh, it's midnight. I'm so sorry. I just felt prompted to call you". And he said, "why now"?
And his voice started to shake? Well, I had known he was going through a difficult time. And so I said, "David, are you planning on taking your life"? And he said, "yes, I am". I'm gonna do it. I said, do you have a gun? Do you have something in your hand? He said, yes, I have a gun and I'm going to do it. I said David, "do you recognize that I'm in another part of the world? And God loves you so much that he prompted me to come and to reach out to you? Put the gun down, go wake up your neighbor. We're not gonna do this today". And he started crying, he said, "yes, I can see that's just how much God loves me". You have no idea what God might do when you follow a prompting. This is faithfulness.
The second story. This is my son, Steven, who is, is so passionate about the things of Jesus. And I told God, one day I said, I'll do anything you prompt me to do. It was just you prompt me, I'll do it. And I felt God tell me the next time you see Steven, pray for him, the next time. So I went home and Steven was there with a bunch of his smelly friends. And I said, "God, I'll pray for him when his friends leave". And so I hesitated and I waited and God prompted me, "No, go pray for him now". And so I went up in front of his friends and I said, "Steven, I feel like I'm supposed to pray for you". And this is kind of weird, 'cause even as a pastor, I don't do that at my house. Sorry to disappoint you. But I don't. And he looked at me funny. His friends looked at me funny. I laid hands on him. I prayed for him and he kind of looked emotional and I kind of got emotional. And then I stopped and they looked at me and he looked at me and I looked at him and I walked off awkwardly and we never talked about it since.
Where's the miracle? There is none. What's the story? There is none. The spiritual principle is this, obedience is our responsibility, outcome is God's. This is faithfulness. Sometimes you'll see the reason and other times you won't, but we're gonna pre-decide to be faithful. And what I want you to understand is that God is gonna put someone on your heart or something on your heart and you're not gonna be sure why, but you're gonna say, I think I'm supposed to tell you, or I think I was supposed to text you or I think I was supposed to give this to you, right? I think I was supposed to bless you with this and you're gonna pre-decide because of the faithfulness of God, I wanna be faithful to him. I'm faithful to add value. I'm faithful to multiply and steward what God has given me. I'm faithful to obey, why? Because the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. Everybody say I'm faithful. Faithful. I'm pre-deciding. I'm pre-deciding to be faithful.
Someone asked me recently, and this is one of the more common questions that I'm asked about the church. They said, when you started Life.Church, did you ever see all, all this happening? And the answer is like, no freaking way. Like no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Never, never, never, never, never. And when we started Life.Church, I met with a mentor of mine. His name is Gary Walter. And we sat across the table and Gary looked at me and he said, "what I want you to know is I promise you, you're gonna over estimate, what you can do in the short run". And it was so true. In the early years, we're like, we're a year and a half into the church and we're ministering to 120 people. And I was so disappointed. Like I wanted to reach more. I wanna impact the city. I wanna make a difference and he said, you're gonna overestimate what you can accomplish in the short run and then said, and it was incredibly powerful. He said, "you will overestimate what you can do in the short run, but you'll vastly underestimate what God can do through a lifetime of faithfulness". Amen.
I don't know who this is for, but I want you to hear it, as God's speaking to you. You'll over estimate what you can get done in this season, how you can change your marriage in this season, how you can make an impact in this season, how you can improve financially in this season, how you can grow spiritually. You'll overestimate what you can do in the short run, but you will vastly, every single time, underestimate what God can do through a lifetime of faithfulness. Did I ever see all of this with a church? The answer is no, no, no, no, no, no. And I'm gonna give you just a handful of what could be hundreds, maybe even thousands of small moments of faithfulness, faithful in the small things.
I started dating Amy years and years ago when we were just dating, trying to look like Top Gun. We decided to be faithful in purity and wait until we were married to engage in the gift of love making. I'll be really honest with you. It was incredibly difficult on Amy. Just joking. It was so hard on me. It was actually a little bit hard on both of us just to be real honest. And we honored God in faithfulness. We honored him in faithfulness. And then on May 25th in 1991, I stood before God and before our closest friends and I made a promise to God and a promise to Amy to be faithful to her, as long as we both shall live, and 31 years later, I have kept and we'll continue to keep that vow. This is kind of... ah, thank you. This is a little bit odd, but I'm going somewhere with it.
When I was 19, this older guy said, hey would you like to buy my mom's house? I was 19. I didn't know how to buy a house. And he said, here's what the payment would be and I'll carry the note. And the payment was half of what my rent was. I thought I can take on a roommate my rent is half. That makes sense. So I bought a house, it worked and I bought another one and it worked. And I bought two more. I woke up landlord at 19, 24 houses before I graduated from college. Didn't mean too wasn't good at it, but I got good at it. And very faithfully, now for 36 years, I've just been investing and multiplying resources. And now we are honored to be able to be incredibly generous by being faithful, to multiply what we've been given.
In 1996, we felt prompted to start a different kind of church and scared to death with 40 people in a little garage with an anointed overhead projector. If you don't know what that is, you can Google it. And we started a church believing that perhaps one day God might do something special through it. And during that time I met a young guy named Brian Bross, who was 19 years old. And he was one of the best waiters at macaroni grill you've ever seen. And I saw something in that kid that was special. And I tried to add value to him again and again and again, and now he had add value to the whole city of Norman, Oklahoma, because he is the live church campus pastor. Faithful, faithful, faithful.
In 2008, pastor Bobby came up and said, "hey, Apple's coming out with apps. Why don't we start an app? And why don't we give it away"? And I thought," what is an app? And how are we gonna pay for it"? And I was scared to death to say yes, but felt prompted by the Spirit of God and could have never imagined that that app, the YouVersion Bible app would be on 515, 515 million, over half of a billion apps here years later. Never could have imagined it.
And then a little over five years ago, I felt strangely prompted to start a leadership podcast, which they gotta, you gotta admit, that's weird. Like pastors don't do leadership podcasts. Would anybody even listen? And oddly enough, five years later that little podcast has more reach than probably anything else that I say and is oddly enough an incredibly evangelistic tool to introduce people to church who may never come otherwise.
And then perhaps one of the most emotional moments of faithfulness was in may of 2020 when the churches were closed and nobody was meeting. And if you can go back there in your mind and put yourself in our shoes, we didn't know if anybody would come back. It was the scariest moment. And we had planned on breaking ground for a building in Colorado Springs. And there wasn't a church leader. I knew on planet earth that we would break ground or move forward anywhere during that time. And we all sat in a little room and we prayed and felt called by God to take a step of faith and break ground. And here we are today with over 2000 people and over 600 people coming to faith in Christ at that very location in Colorado Streams, because we had the faith to believe that Jesus would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against the body of Christ.
Did we see it coming? No, but when you're faithful with a little, God will trust you with much. And so if you wanna be successful, if you wanna be influential, if you wanna be happy, what are you? You're faithful in the small things. And God trusts you with more. You're faithful with those around you. And he gives you more influence. You're faithful to make a difference in the world. And suddenly you are fulfilled and blessed and full of joy because he's trusting you with more. "The righteous will live by their faithfulness to God".
Every interaction is an opportunity to add value. Every resource, is an opportunity to multiply, to steward and every prompting is an opportunity to obey. When God prompts you just say yes, because obedience is your responsibility and outcome is God's. And my promise to you is this. You will overestimate what you can get done in the short run, but you'll vastly underestimate what God can do through a lifetime of faithfulness. So Father make us faithful. We pray today, wherever you're watching from those of you who say, I want to be faithful, God help me to be faithful. Lift your hands right now, type it in the chat.
I wanna be faithful. God help me to be faithful. Stir within us God. A desire to honor you, to be faithful, to be a blessing, to be faithful, to be a steward, to be faithful, to be obedient, just ask God, make me faithful. Tell him I will be faithful. I will be obedient. I will be a blessing. I will be a steward. Make me faithful.
As you keep praying today, nobody looking around. Some of you recognize you have not been faithful to God. None of us have gotten it right. We've all fallen short. You might feel incredibly guilty. Scripture says this. That even when we're faithless, the good news is that God is faithful. And there's a powerful truth in scripture about Jesus, the son of God who gave his life, died in our place, so that we could live. And scripture says that if we confess our sins to God, God is faithful. And just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all in righteousness, wherever you're watching from today, those of you that you need his forgiveness, you need his grace. What we're gonna do is step away from sin and step into a relationship with God so that we can honor him. When you call out on the name of Jesus, God forgives every single sin and he makes you new wherever you are.
Those who say, "I need his grace today. I call on him", when you do, he makes you new. Wherever you're watching. I want his forgiveness. I call on him. Would you lift your hands and say, "yes, that's my prayer, I need Jesus". Lift your hands high now all over the place and say "yes", up here. God bless you right over here, others today, Jesus, I'm surrendering to you. Praise God for you guys. Others today say Jesus, right back here, man. Praise God for you. You just type it in the comment section. I'm giving my life to Christ right back here in the comment, just type it in. I'm giving my life to Christ. Would you all pray with those around you? Just pray aloud:
Heavenly Father, forgive all my sins. Jesus, save me. Change me, make me new. My life belongs to you. Thank you for new life. Help me be faithful in all I do in Jesus' name I pray.