Craig Groeschel - I'm Invested
Well, I am so thankful to have you with us today at all of our Life.Churches and our Open Network Churches. Our family all over the world at Church Online. We're in a message series that I pray is building the faith and the heart of our church. It's called I'm In, and we're in the final week of our message series I'm In. We're looking at four different qualities I believe that God calls for all of us to embrace as his church, the body of Christ. If you've been with us, let's review, and then we'll look at the theme for this week.
Week number one we looked at the big idea, I'm In. I'm Invited. What are you? You are invited into God's family.
Week number two we looked at the powerful truth that you are invaluable to God's work through his church.
Last week we studied the truth that I'm influential. You are an influencer. You are salt and you are light.
This week I want to show you that by the power of God you can be invested in the work of God in his church to make a difference all over this world. Somebody say, I'm invested. What are you? I'm invested in God's church.
Now, some of you, as we talk about being invested in God's church, you might say, well actually, I'm not really that invested in God's church. And that's okay to be honest, and I want to help you recognize that you may not be yet invested in God's church, but the truth of the matter is you are invested somewhere. You're invested. You believe in something. You're passionate about something. For example, if you buy season tickets to watch your favorite team play a sport, you become invested in that particular team. It may be 102 degrees out. It may be negative three degrees. You're out there. You're on the field. Your face is painted and you're acting like an idiot. Why? Because you're invested in what's going on there. Your heart follows your investment.
If you are invited to attend a class on managing your money and you don't pay anything for it, you may go, you may not go. You don't really care. If on the other hand you invest your money to go to a class to manage money, you're gonna squeeze that class for all it's worth. The reason is because you are invested. Let's say this. Let's say you've got an old junker clunker car and someone says, hey, can I eat in your car? You can say, you can vomit in my car, because it's an old junker. But if you invest in a new car and someone says, can I eat in your car, you say, you can't breathe in my car, because I'm invested in this car. You know what it's like when you finally get to that one. You wrap your kids up in plastic. You can't touch anything, kids. This is my new car. You're invested in something.
We're all invested in something. The problem is that many of us unfortunately, we're investing in things that don't last. We're investing in things that don't really matter for very long at all. And when you look at the words and the teachings of Jesus, Jesus actually uses a phrase again and again. He illustrates it in different ways in different times in different stories, and he tells us essentially not to invest in things that don't last, but instead to pour our treasures into things that will impact eternity, and I want to show you one of the verses that he said and then show you several different examples from scripture to illustrate one big thought that I believe will help all of us as disciples of Jesus become more invested in God's work through his church, the bride of Christ, to make a difference in this world.
Here's the image of what Jesus says in many different ways throughout scripture. He says in Matthew chapter six verse 19, he says, don't store up. At all of our churches, let's say that phrase loud. He says, don't, what he says, don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. He says, don't store up. Don't hoard what you have. Don't invest everything that you have in places that don't last and don't matter. He says, don't store up. A key thought for today if you're taking notes is this. Our God has created us to pour, not store. Our God has created us to pour out, to be a blessing to others, instead of to store up just for ourselves.
Jesus said it another time this way. He said, it's more blessed to give than it is to receive. In other words, we're created to pour, not store. Some of you are cluing in. Oh here we go. It's the annual giving message. I just want to say for the record it's not annual. If you don't like giving messages, the good news is it's been almost two years since I've done a giving message. That's the good news. The bad news is, I've been saving up for two years, and you came today on a day I am very excited to talk to you about a very powerful life-transforming principle that we can be generously invested in building the work of God through his church. We are created by God to pour, not store.
The good news is, I believe that most of you here actually love to give. The truth of the matter is, when you think about it, it's really a joy to make a difference in the life of someone else, to take something that God has trusted to you, and to realize, I actually have what I need. I have more than enough. I'm gonna take this and use it to bless someone else. There's a thrill in that. There's a deep satisfaction. There's an abiding sense of joy when you use what God has trusted to you to be a blessing to someone else, and that's why very few of you will look back at your life and get emotional over consuming stories.
There are very few people that say, I've got to tell you the most emotional spending story of all time. I went in and I wanted it and I didn't have the money for it, but I went ahead and charged the bracelet, and it only took me seven months to pay. Oh, it was such a great feeling to swipe that card and put that thing on and only pay 19% interest over the next, oh I just, I feel so good when I do that.
You know I have very many emotional spending stories, but I know those of you are generous, you have plenty of emotional giving moments. When you look back over your life, those of you that are tithers, you might get really emotional when you think about the first time you took that radical step of faith to worship God and give back a significant portion of what he's trusted to you back to him as an act of glorifying him. Or you gave an offering, or there was someone in your small group that had a need, and you gave what was significant to you. It might have been something like a car. Instead of trading it in you gave it. It might have been diapers to someone that had a baby. It might have been a meal. It might have been when you were prompted to buy someone's groceries in a grocery store just because you felt like you had resources and they had a need.
And you look back over those times and you think, I really felt the joy of the Lord when I used what he trusted to me to be a blessing to someone else. And the reason you felt joy in that is because you are created by God to pour out blessings, not to store them up. And the reason why that some people get upset or uncomfortable when we talk about giving I believe is because we really want to give, but we feel like we're not in a place to give just right now. We'd like to give more, but we feel like we need more before we're comfortable to actually give more.
And the reason I understand this so well is because I grew up consumed with what some would call a scarcity mindset. Those with a scarcity mindset, we tend to believe that there's only one pie, and if someone else gets a piece then there's not very much to go around. Rather than believing you can actually make more pies, we tend to think there's not much. We've got to guard ours. We've got to protect what we have. And we tend to feel that whenever we have a scarcity mindset, we'd like to give more, but we can't because we don't have enough, so we live with this when-then attitude. When I get more, then I'll give more. The problem is, we never have enough when we live with a scarcity mindset, because we're consumed with fear. We're afraid, so we believe we need more, and so we store up and we keep to ourselves, and then we find that we never ever have enough.
In fact, Jesus told a parable about a guy, a story of a guy that had this very mindset in Luke chapter 12. What's interesting is this is a story about a guy who was a rich farmer, and when you think about it, he was a rich farmer. If he was a rich farmer, who made the guy rich? God made the guy rich if the guy was putting stuff in God's ground and it grew back out. The guy was a hard worker. He obeyed the principles of seed and harvest, and God blessed the guy and he had a lot of stuff. But the problem is, this guy is like a lot of us. He had a scarcity mindset and he said, what should I do with all that I have?
And scripture says this in Luke chapter 12. He said this. The guy said, I know, I'll tear down my barns and I'll build bigger ones, and there, watch it. What did he say? I will store my surplus grain. I'm not gonna pour it out. I'm gonna store it up. And God looked on and said, you fool. You are being so short-sighted. And God says something very dramatic. God says, this very night, your life will be demanded of you. Why? Jesus said, this is how it will be for whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.
We're created to pour, not store. Whenever we start with a scarcity mindset, we're driven by fear. I've got to keep what I have. I've got to guard it. I've got to protect it. I've got to store it up. There's another mindset though that I really believe reflects the God of scripture, and this is not a scarcity mindset, but this is a mindset of abundance. We believe that we serve an abundantly generous and good God. Our God owns everything. Our God is good. Our God loves to bless his children. Our God provides for our needs. Not only does our God give us enough, but our God often gives us more than enough so that we can be a blessing to others. This is not a scarcity mindset. This is a faith-filled, God-believing, God-honoring mindset that our God is a good God who generously blesses us so we can be a blessing to so many others.
And there was actually an amazing woman that lived a very dark life that encountered the powerful grace of Jesus that lived with an abundant mindset. We talked about this woman in week number one of the message series I'm Invited. We'll look at a parallel story today of this woman who was a prostitute who heard about the grace of Jesus, traveled a long way to meet him, walked straight into a house full of Pharisees, and takes her most valuable possession, a jar full of very expensive perfume valued at about a year's worth of wages, and because of who Jesus was and because of the grace he extended to her, this woman did not store up what she had. Instead she poured it out. She didn't store. She poured her most valuable possession on the feet of Jesus as a sacrificial act of worship.
You can almost imagine what she's thinking. If he's good enough to forgive me, he's powerful enough to provide for me, and whatever I have, I want to use as an expression of worship to give to him. She didn't store. She poured. What's interesting is there was another person in this story. His name was Judas, and Judas did not have an abundant mindset. Judas had a scarcity mindset. If you don't know the full story of Judas, you might know that he was the guy that betrayed Jesus, but why did he betray Jesus? What did he do it for? He did it for some money. I need more, I need more, I need more.
And when this woman who was completely forgiven and transformed by Jesus had no other resource but this to give to him, an extravagant expression of worship, Judas looked on as if to say, don't do that. And he was very very angry, raised his voice, and said, stop that. That perfume could have been sold and the money could have been given to the poor. In other words, Judas looked on and said, we don't have enough to worship Jesus like that. We don't have enough to be generous. And Jesus said, what this woman has done is a beautiful thing, and in the year 2019, Pastor Craig will preach about her one day. That's essentially what he said. It's essentially what he said. This story will be told for generations to come of her beautiful sacrificial, extravagant moment of worship. Our God is a good God, and we're created to pour, not to store.
Somebody say, I'm invested. I'm invested in the work of God. I'm not just one who looks on. I'm one that brings the resources that God has trusted to me, and I pour them out through the family of God to be a blessing to people all over the world who are in need. God created you, I hope you realize this, to pour, to be a blessing, not to store. In fact, I told you I'd tell you a lot of stories. I'm gonna tell you another one that to me is not only incredibly powerful, but is actually a little bit funny when you really read into it and see what happened. This one comes from Luke chapter nine and it's when Jesus fed the 5,000. That's kind of what the title of the message will often say, but I want to give you a little insight to this. This was probably the biggest crowd that Jesus ever preached to, because it wasn't just 5,000 people.
At this time whenever they would count a crowd, they would only count the men, unfortunately. They wouldn't count the women. They wouldn't count the children. So technically this was probably 15,000, 20,000 or so people. This was probably most scholars agree the biggest crowd that Jesus preached to, and funny to me, it was probably the longest message that he ever preached. How many of you, don't even raise your hand 'cause I don't want to know. Have you ever been to a message that just went too long? Don't raise your hand. Just kind of nod like it's not a big deal, not like you're thinking about me or anything like that. If you've ever been to a place where somebody's gone on and on and on and on and on, on and on and on. That's what Jesus was doing this day. Jesus got on a roll and he didn't stop.
My pastor used to say this. He said, do you want to know what a good sermon is? A good sermon is one that has a strong start, a strong finish, and as little in between as possible. That's a strong sermon. Jesus had like 93 points in the sermon. He was going on and on and on and on, and when you read between the lines, I think the disciples were getting bored, and they were really really hungry. Watch and see it in the text. Scripture says this in Luke 9:12. Late in the afternoon. Now there's another translation that translates it this way, as the day wore on. There's another translated like, yeah, he went too long.
As the day wore on, the 12, this is Jesus' volunteer staff, these are his disciples, his trusted ones, came to him and said, Jesus, send the crowd away so we can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we're here in a remote place. I am visualizing the meeting that took place before the 12 of them approached him together. I'm visualizing it. I'm thinking John called a meeting. Pst, Peter, over here. Thomas, Barney. That's Bartholomew. Nobody knows. Barney, come over here. Matthew, hey, you guys hungry? Yeah. I thought he'd be done four hours ago. We're in the fourth service and we haven't even had a bathroom break. Hey hey hey, why don't you, Thomas, you know Thomas is the dumb one, okay. Why don't you go tell him he's going too long? I'm not gonna do that. Okay, we'll all go together and we'll tell Jesus, the people are probably looking kind of hungry because he seems to care a lot about the people.
And so they all go there together and they say, Jesus, you know, we love the sermon. I got like three pages of notes. I could hear you forever. That part about, you're talking about the wives and the foolish builder. That's so powerful. I've never heard anything like that. Oh it's so good. But the people, they're probably hungry. They need something to eat. Watch what Jesus does. Jesus replied, you give them something to eat. I'm imagining Peter panicking. This isn't what was supposed to happen. And the disciples have a scarcity mindset. Jesus says, you go give them something to eat, and the disciples answered, we only have five loaves of bread and two fish. We don't have enough to give it to all the people. All we have is five biscuits and a Long John Silver's Snack Pack.
Can you feel it? I mean, this is real stuff. We'd love to go and give to all these 15,000 people, but all I've got is a Value Meal. This is not gonna go very far. And that's when they said to Jesus, we don't have enough, and then Jesus said the one-handed clap. You know what that is, right? Bop. Oh. I didn't see this coming. They're all gonna starve and die to death out here. That's not what he did, that's not what he did.
Let me show you what Jesus did. Scripture says, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, he gave thanks, and he broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. Now visualize this. Here's five loaves and two fish, and Thomas goes to the first person and says, take a very very small piece. What would you do, right? He gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people, and watch what happens. 15,000, maybe 20,000 there. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up 12 basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. They fed 5,000 men, 4,000 or 5,000 women, maybe 8,000 or 10,000 kids, and they had 12, everybody say 12. 12 basketfuls left over.
In other words, it was like Jesus was saying, hey, there's more than enough, and I'm giving you 12 doggie bags so each disciple can take one home as a reminder in the abundant goodness of a God who provides more than enough. And I want you to see what happened in this story. Notice the progression, the food. Jesus blessed it. The disciples gave it. And God multiplied it. Jesus blessed it. The disciples gave it. And God multiplied it. The principle is this. What you keep is all you have, but what you give, God multiplies. You are created to pour, not store. To be a funnel of blessings, and as you're generous with others, God will often restore that provision and even multiply what is given.
Now here's a question that I think bears answering. When did God multiply what they had? Think about it. When, at what moment did God multiply? God did not give them more when they stored it. God gave them more when they poured it. God gave and multiplied when they were generous and proved they would be a funnel of blessings to take what God had trusted to them and use it to be a blessing to others.
Somebody say, I'm invested. Say it with a smile on your face. I'm invested in God's work. When God calls us to be generous, listen to me. Generosity is not an act. It's a posture of the heart. It's a mindset. Generous people look for needs. Generous people become creative with what they have. Generous people realize that what I have is not all for me, that this isn't just for me to store up, but this may be for me to pour out. Generous people realize it's a joy to make a difference in the lives of others. It's a mindset. For me, this is a driving mindset of what our family and our church is called to do. And the reason I'm so passionate about it is because this was not always my mindset.
I grew up the most passionate about storing. Gotta have more. There's never enough. I was a kid walking in a lake pond by a golf course stepping on golf balls to go sell 'em for 50 cents each. I gotta have more, I gotta have more. As a kid I felt that driving force. There's not gonna be enough. And for me, when it all started to change, God blesses, we give, he multiples. It started to change when I began to understand the tithe.
Years ago, in fact I told you last week, years ago I heard a message about the tithe. What is the tithe? The tithe starts with a Hebrew word, which means 1/10, and the Old Testament teaches us and Jesus affirms the tithe in the New Testament very very clearly when he says, you should do justice, you show mercy, and you should do what is taught. He said, you should be obedient even in the tithe. The tithe is when we return a portion, 1/10 of what God trusts to us back to him through an act of worship.
In fact, in the Old Testament in the Book of Malachi, Malachi was correcting some things that were wrong with God's people. He talked about the worship and corrected it. He talked about moral behavior and brought correction. He talked about their wrongful use of resources and he brought very strong correction. He said this to them. He said, bring the whole tithe, bring 10%, into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. In the New Testament we tend to believe that this is the local church. Today there might be spiritual food that will strengthen you spiritually, that we worship God with the tithe through the local church, and the local church meets the spiritual and physical needs of people all over the world.
Now, I looked on at that and thought, that's the craziest thing I've ever heard. Ain't no way I can do that. No way. No no way. To do that, I would have to rearrange my life. Yeah. Like I'd have to put God first. Yeah. That would take crazy faith. Yeah. Kind of would. And it's almost as if God knew that all of us would think that, because the only place in all of scripture he ever said, if you don't believe me, you can test me, and that's exactly what God said. He said, test me. Give it a shot. Test me, says the Lord, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven, and watch what he said. I would throw open the floodgates of heaven, and what is the phrase? Say it with me. And pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. When we're faithful to God, he proves himself faithful to us.
So I was 19 years old. I was a brand-new Christian. I ran a tennis camp all summer and made a lot of money for a 19-year-old 'cause I was like the camp director, founder, and everything, and I heard the message and I realized, oh my gosh. I should worship God truly with the tithe. And so, against everything that though I needed more, I decided to pour, and I wrote a check. Some of you don't know what a check is. You can Google it. It's something your grandma used to do. I wrote a check of 10% of what I made and trembled emotionally as I put it in the offering plate. I trust you with this, God.
I found out that the amount, 'cause it was a pretty big amount, was enough for them to buy this storage shed that they were hoping to buy and that had met a need for the church, and then, this is a very true story, Amy can tell you and verify, I went home and my grandmother, who we never thought had much of anything, called me on that day and said she felt prompted by God to buy me a car. I had been saving for a car. She bought me a 1989 Honda Accord. Not only did she buy me a car, she bought me a spiritual car. And all the disciples gathered in one. See what I did there, okay.
To make a long story short, an older fraternity brother, this guy was really really old, like 35 years old, he was up there, approached me right after that and said, hey, I've got this small house. Would you like to buy it? I'll carry the note, and he explained to me what that meant, and I took the money that I had saved as a 19-year-old and I bought a house. Then I recognized my fraternity brothers would pay me way more than the payments, and so I had a rent house. Then I bought a second. Then I bought a third. I had four rent houses before I graduated from college and met Amy, and the financial strength that we have today was born out of a very first act of faith when we poured, not stored. We were able to live off this little rent house.
When we started Life.Church, Amy and I did what we called, our phrase was, we went all in, all in. We took everything that we had. Everything that wasn't tied down. If there was retirement that we could cash in, we cashed it in. Anything that we could sell, we sold, and we put it all into God's work, and I'm invested in this place. To this day we see ourselves as those who are called to pour, not store. I was talking to a business owner, a family, husband and a wife, that are very generous to the church and asking them some questions and such, and they just wanted to talk about the church. We love our church, we love our church.
You can always tell if someone's invested or not because if they're not, they say, Pastor Craig, we love your church. When they're invested they say, we love our church. They say, we love our church. And I wanted to find out if this guy had sold his business, did some investing. I said, hey, what's the best investment that you've ever made? I know real estate. I've done it for years, but I wanted to learn from him. And he smiled really big and he said, the best investment our family ever makes is giving back to God through our church.
And then, this is what he said. He said, I've done the homework and I've looked into it. Where could I give to a place that would be more generous? That we give away free resources to hundreds of thousands of pastors all over the world, where we give away everything we can to open network churches all over the world, where we give away now almost $400 million free YouVersion Bible Apps. Week over week, year over year, all over the world. He said, and we pour out millions and millions of dollars internationally into missions and in 33 going on 34 different locations around the world, impacting and partnering with local agencies to make a difference, start campuses in cities and states across the nation, paid for in cash before they ever start, and then, he said, it dawned on me the first time I came and you all said something at offering time that I understand you've said since day number one, and he's exactly right because we said it on day number one, and that is if there's someone here who has a need of food or a place to stay, then you're welcome to take back out of the offering.
And he said, not in these words, but essentially, we are a church that pours, not stores. Then he said, and every week all the hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people that are saved, and he said, I am one of those people through the church. When a pastor came to my house and answered my questions and helped me meet Jesus and helped me have a Christ-centered marriage, and through the church my two daughters came to faith in Christ and I got to baptize them through the church, and now they're in colleges in two different cities that happen to have Life.Churches and they're still plugged into the church, and there's the lady that cuts my hair that came to faith in Christ because I brought her to church, and he said, the best investment that I ever make is giving into the house of God through my church.
I hope you have that. You're invested somewhere. You're invested somewhere. Where you invest, your heart follows, and I hope with everything in me that you will recognize you are invited to the family of God, that you are invaluable to God's work. You've got spiritual gifts inside of you to make a difference as the church and in this world. You are an influencer. You are salt and you are light. Let your light shine into this world as you are invested, not storing up, but pouring out, because we serve an abundant, faithful, good, and generous God who gives his children more than enough. So we, the people of God, could meet the needs of people in the name of the one who gave it all for us. His name is Jesus.
So Father, today I pray that we would be a church full of people invested in your work, pouring blessings out, not storing up, to reveal the love and the goodness of your Son Jesus, and making a difference in this world.
At all of our churches today, those of you would say, I am a follower of Christ and I want to be even more invested, even more generous, seeing needs and meeting them, being a part fully functioning, radically generous to my church and beyond, would you lift up your hands right now, just lift them up.
God, thank you for generous, faith-filled followers of Christ. God, I thank you for the emotional giving stories that would happen even today, for those who would tithe for the very first time, those who may go home and choose this week to tithe online, to give an offering, to see a need and realize that we are called and equipped to meet that need, to be a source of encouragement or provide for someone who lacks. God, use us to give in your church, as your church, through your church, shining the light all over this world. God, may we see needs all around this week and rejoice when we're equipped to meet those needs in your name, God, and for your glory.
As you keep praying today at all of our churches, some of you, you'll recognize that you're in need. You're in need right now. Maybe it's not just a physical need but it's a spiritual need. You don't have any peace in your life. You feel empty. You're lacking joy. Let me tell you about the greatest gift. Our God is a giving God. For our God so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus. Jesus is the sinless Lamb of God who died in our place for the forgiveness of sins and God raised him from the dead so that anyone, and this includes you, who calls on his name would be saved.
At all of our churches today there may be those of you who recognize you don't have peace with God, you don't know where you stand with God. You know you've done some things wrong and you need his forgiveness. You're here today because our God is good, because he loves you, because he gave his Son so you could have life. At all of our churches those who say, I need his grace, I need salvation, I turn from my sins, and I turn toward Jesus, as God gave Jesus for me, I give my life to him. That's your prayer. Lift your hands now, all over the place and say, yes, it's me. As we've got hands going up all over this place even right now in this moment around the room. Church Online, if you click right below me, and we're all gonna pray aloud. Would you simply pray with those around you?
Heavenly Father, forgive all of my sins. Jesus save me, change me, make me new. I know I'm invited. I am invaluable. I'm influential. And I'm invested to make a difference in your name and for your glory. Thank you for new life. Now you have mine. In Jesus' name I pray.