David Jeremiah - Invest: Outlive Your Life
Not far from my home is a little black and white shop called, "See's Candies". They have amazing displays of chocolates. Over 200 of these stores dot California and a few other states along with hundreds of kiosks in airports and malls. The chain was started back in the 1920s when a Canadian couple named Charles and Florence See moved to California. Charles's widowed mother, Mary, came along too, toting a handful of treasured candy recipes. The See family opened their first candy store in Los Angeles in November of 1921. The See family sold its business a few years ago and guess who bought it? No, the owner wasn't named Hershey or Nestlé, it was Warren Buffett and his Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. Buffett paid $25 million for See's Candies and, since then, the return for his investment has topped more than $1.3 billion. Buffett has called See's one of the top investments he ever made.
Well, with respect to Warren Buffett, the sweetest investments in the world don't come in assorted boxes of nuts and chews, nor in stock portfolios, nor in Wall Street transactions. The best expenditure you'll ever make is the legacy of a well-invested life. The Bible talks about investing for both time and eternity, providing a legacy that will outlive us on earth and eternal returns that will never fade in heaven. So no matter how well you invest on earth, if you're not involved in the long-term investments of eternity, you're pouring all of your resources into short-term ventures.
Someone once said that the real measure of our wealth is how much we would be worth if we lost all of our money. So let me give you an incredible example of that in the story of Austin Carlile. When Austin Carlile was 15, his parents divorced and he felt ripped apart. He went to live with his mother but, within two years, she died from an aneurysm caused by the Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. Austin threw up his hands and he cursed God, and he turned to music and he said, "I had all this rage and a lot of this rage was toward God, and I could yell into a mic and get all that rage and all that hate out, and so that's what I did".
He started a band called, "Of Mice and Men". It took off like a rocket. They hit the charts day after day, week after week, and Austin raked in the money. Sadly, he also inherited his mom's genetic disorder and he began facing incredible pain. Alcohol and drug use took over his life. One day after a show he climbed on the roof of his touring bus and he called his father and he said, "What am I missing? My band is building this success, but I feel so empty and so hurt and so lost". His father asked him a simple question. He said, "Where is God in your life"?
That question sent Austin into the Bible and he prayed and he said, "God, I wanna come back", and even as he made a spiritual turnaround, his health continued to deteriorate, causing him to give up life on the road, and he put all his belongings into a storage facility and moved to Costa Rica so he could be near to his father. The rent on his storage facility was paid by monthly drafts to his credit card, but when the card expired without his knowledge, the storage facility cleaned out his unit, sold all his belongings, and he was left with only three suitcases of belongings.
Recently, Austin sat down with author Doug Bender, and he said, "I still don't have anything. I don't have a job, I don't know what's next, I don't know what God is planning, but I have so much joy, so much peace, so much happiness now, that I've had in my whole life. God has showed me that everything I need is in him". You see, in order to move forward toward God's plan for the next phase of your life, you've got to have a dream, you need to pray, you need to set the right priorities, you need to focus on the right goal, take the right kinds of risks. You'll need to pursue your dreams with enthusiasm and believe in those dreams with optimism. In addition to all of that, you'll need the kind of wealth that will survive loss, and the kind of investments that will never become insolvent. That's the power of investing in an eternal legacy.
To do that, you have to determine which assets are eternal in essence. Things that will never cease to exist. Moving forward means pouring yourself into those assets. Here are the top three of those pursuits. Number one, invest in God's Word. The wisest people on earth are those who are students of God's Word. All you need is a willingness to open its pages every day, pray for insight, and learn how to study it. And the time you spend in God's Word is an investment that's both eternal and internal wisdom. You see, the Bible is God's wisdom, and God's truth will never cease. And since we hold in our hands an eternal book, we'd better invest ourselves in it.
How do we do that? Well, here's a couple of thoughts. First of all, study his Word. Paul said, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth". The Bible, you see, gives us eternal information from heaven so that we know from heaven how to live life on earth, and there's no better investment on earth than the time you spend every day soaking in the truth of the Bible. We invest a lot of time today on our electronic devices, social media, computer games.
What would happen if you devoted a portion of that time to serious Bible study? It would build you into a person with the essential skills that you need to face these days, whatever they bring forth. So, just something you probably already know. Study the Bible. And then secondly, spread the Bible. Spread the Word of God. There's another way we invest in God's Word: when we spread it. Whenever you give away a Bible or a New Testament, or whenever you support someone who does, you're investing in eternity. When we share the Scriptures, we're like advisors helping people make the greatest investment in their lives.
Matthew 13 puts it this way: "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and he buys that field". And the Apostle Paul said, "I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may win Christ". Can you think of a better way to invest your life than by studying and spreading God's wisdom and his Word? So ask God how you can be a part of it.
I have a friend who ordered 50 pocket New Testaments and wherever he goes on a trip, he keeps some of them in his carry-on luggage and he gives them to fellow travelers. He gives them to ride-share drivers and hotel bellhops and others, and hardly anyone ever refuses it. I don't think I've ever had anyone ever refuse a little copy of the Scripture that I wanted to give them. Only heaven will reveal the results of the eternal investment of sharing the Word of God.
That's what we do here at "Turning Point", every day. We share the Word of God on the radio, on television, through social media, in books, in magazines. In everything we do, we have one purpose and that's to share this incredible book, the eternal wisdom of the Bible, with people all over the world. And I'll tell you what, we've been doing it now for such a long time, some of the dividends are coming back.
Every day we get a letter, we get an email, sometimes a phone call, from people who say, "I was listening to your program. I was watching your television program, and the Lord got a hold of my heart and I became a Christian". And now, those people who have become Christians will tell others about Christ, but here's the ultimate reality. One day, we will all be in heaven and they will be in heaven because the Word of God was shared with them on earth. So invest in God's Word. That's the place you begin.
Here's the second thing: Invest in God's work. Let's invest our time and our abilities in his work on earth. You see, the work of God is eternal. We'll still be serving him in heaven. His enterprise will never go bankrupt, his servants won't be laid off. We're to serve him as best we can until our last breath and then we'll pick up where we left off and keep serving him in heaven forever. God's work will never go out of business. We'll always have a job in the kingdom of God.
So let's begin now, right where we are. Here's two specific ways you can invest in God's work. First of all, develop a personal ministry. Life is defined by serving. Jesus said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve". Do you know how many ways you can serve? There's at least 7.6 billion because that's the estimated population of earth, and every person has a need. Think of your time, think of your abilities, and ask yourself what can you do for the Lord? Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money at the same time".
Jesus invested his life in service and he wants that to be the same thing that we do. In Romans 7, we read: "So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God".
Do you know what the word "ministry" means? It means service. God hasn't placed you on this earth for a few fleeting decades so you can serve yourself. That's where most people are in our world today. They live every day for themselves. But God has placed us who are believers on this earth so that we can serve him, and in order to serve him you have to serve others. He brings you to the people that he wants you to serve. He puts you in the right situation and then you have the privilege of sharing the joy of Jesus Christ with them.
So you see, your primary task here is to invest yourself in the personal ministry God has for you. And think of this: everything you've ever experienced in your life, good and bad, has prepared you for what's ahead. God has a unique area of service just for you and that service is part of his plan for you as you move forward. So what he wants us to do is to find out, take inventory of ourselves, find out what we're gifted to do, and then leverage that to the kingdom of God. So develop a personal ministry. Every one of us can do that. You say, "Dr. Jeremiah, I'm so old", no, wait a minute. There's no age limit on this. Whoever you are, wherever you are, all of us have a personal ministry.
Second thing I wanna tell you about is this: to devote yourself to your local church. In many quarters the local church has come on hard times. But while we're each called to invest ourselves in a personal ministry, we're not isolated entities when it comes to the Lord's work. Listen to Romans 12: "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not have the same function, so in Christ, though many, we form one body, and each member belongs to all the other members".
Now, when Christ went back to heaven, he left behind one and only one great organism for continuing his work. What is that? He left behind the church. And his church is eternal. It isn't made of bricks and mortar but of human beings, living stones. We're his family and he's made us part of the family business. There are only two things that are eternal and that's the Word of God and the souls of men and women. Moving forward toward God's plan for the next phase of your life means you're investing yourself in these eternal ventures.
It was to the church of Jesus Christ that Jesus said, listen to these words: "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age".
It's hard to invest your life in the work of the Lord if you ignore, neglect, or disdain the church that Jesus has established. If you have a negative attitude toward the church, men and women, try thanking God for the good people and the good qualities and the good work of that church. You know somebody who's making a difference in the church. Go and help them, give God thanks because of what they're doing. Determine that you're not gonna allow a negative spirit toward the church to develop in your heart.
So, invest in God's work, invest in his Word. Finally, invest in his wealth. Heaven is eternal. Therefore, we have to shore up what we're doing with our money. We have to use our resources sort of to pay ahead and invest our lives in the things eternal. All of us who are in Christ have a great surprise ahead of us. No matter how much we've visualized and anticipated heaven, it will be greater than anything we will ever have imagined by a billion miles and a billion years.
Sometimes I read the last two chapters of the Bible and I try my best to imagine what the new heavens and the new earth will look like. I try to envision the city of New Jerusalem and its gold and its glory and its glitter. Meditating on things above gives us tremendous comfort but what a joy to actually see it for ourselves and be heirs of its richness. The Bible's primary passage about this is in Jesus's Sermon on the Mount. You know this but listen to it in the context of this message. Jesus said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal".
In the simplest terms, Jesus said the two ways we invest are in earthly treasures and in heavenly treasures. Earthly treasures are subject to ruin when the moths get them, they're subject to rust when they corrode. They're subject to robbers who break in and steal them. But when you invest in eternal things, it just keeps appreciating over and over. And Luke 6:38 says when we give, God gives back and he has a much better way of giving. Notice: "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will he put into your bosom".
Jesus was talking about the giving that was involved in the gift of grain. He said that when you give to God, God loves to maximize your investment. My friend, Randy Alcorn, explains it. He said, "Christ offers us the incredible opportunity to trade temporary goods and temporary currency for eternal rewards. By putting our money and possessions in his treasury while we're still on earth, we assure ourselves of eternal rewards that are beyond comprehension".
Consider the implications of this offer. We can trade temporal possessions that we can't keep to gain eternal possessions that we can't lose. This is like a child trading bubblegum for a new bicycle or a man offered ownership of the Coca-Cola Company in exchange for a sack of bottle caps. Only a fool would pass up this opportunity. So if we give instead of keep, if we invest in the eternal instead of the temporal, we store up in heaven treasures that will never stop paying dividends. And whatever treasures we store up in heaven will be waiting for us when we arrive.
Someone once told me that in this life we're either moving away from our treasure or we're moving toward it. If we've invested everything in the things of this earth, little by little we're moving away from it, and one day we'll leave it entirely. But if we've invested in the things of heaven, we're not moving away from it; we're moving toward it. I encourage you to understand what it means to invest in the wealth of God. Today it's hard to imagine a safe place to put your money but when you tithe and devote your resources to the kingdom, it propels the gospel to the whole world. Souls are saved and heaven is populated.
When you support your local church your funds are transmuted into literature and lives and ministry and missions. You may never see the returns 'til you get to heaven but what a joy it will be to run into folks on the golden streets and learn that it was your gift that helped bring them to faith in Christ.
Years ago, there was a song written called "Thank You". It was written to try to imagine what it will be like in heaven when you walk in the doors and pretty soon you run into somebody and they thank you for giving to the Lord because it was your gift that made it possible for me to hear the gospel and because of your gift I am here. I have no idea what that's gonna be like. I don't think anybody can 'cause we've not been there and come back to report. But somehow, when we get to heaven the reward for what we've done here will be so palpable no one will miss it.
When you give, you give to the eternal Word of God, you give to the eternal souls of men and women, you're investing in a way that can never ever be taken from you and your reward and your investment is waiting for you when you arrive in heaven. I've left the most important thing I have to say for last. As we move forward in this life, we also need to invest in our footprints. In other words, we need to leave a pathway, a legacy of faith. Leave an example behind us that will lead others to God. Psalm 71:18 says: "Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare your strength to this generation, your power to everyone who is to come".
I have great admiration for my friend, Tony Evans, and his powerful ministry. But there would be no ministry without his parents. Tony said, "My father came to Christ when he was 30 years of age. I was 10. Immediately, he became a passionate follower of Christ. My mother didn't like him as a sinner and she resented him as a saint. Many times, my dad would be found praying and studying the Bible in the middle of the night".
About a year after Tony's father became a Christian, he was studying one night and he heard the steps creak as his wife began making her way from the upstairs bedroom. She saw her husband studying his Bible, but instead of berating him, she had tears in her eyes. Tony recalls, "She told Dad how she had been observing his transformed life over the past year and that whatever it was that was responsible for that, she wanted it in her life too". Tony said, "That night, my father led my mother to Christ. Our home was transformed and, after that, Mom and Dad led me, my two brothers, and my sister to Christ".
That evening, as he heard the steps creak, Mr. Evans had no idea his simple love for Jesus would transform his home, set his son on the road to ministry, and touch untold thousands of people. Men and women, our days are numbered, and we're moving quickly from today to tomorrow. All of our pleasures and possessions are temporary but the legacy we leave for Christ will endure forever. It's been said many times and in many ways but never better with these simple words: "This one life will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last". Our love and labor for the Lord is never in vain. So let's not waste a single day. Let's live with eternity in mind. Let's invest in tomorrow and let's outlive our lives.