How to Invest Your Life
We’re completing a series today called “Essentials for 21st Century Living.” We’ve been talking about the five essentials required to live your life the way that God designed it to be lived. If you don’t understand and don’t live these essentials, you’re wasting your life. But if you build these essentials into your life, then you will be living the life of purpose that God intends for you.
We’re going to look today at how to invest your life. God has given you certain skills, relationships, and time that you can use to invest for eternity. Your goal should be to get to the end of your life and be able to say what Jesus did: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4 NIV). The Apostle Paul said, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me” (Acts 20:24). That’s my definition of success. It’s getting to the end of life and being able to say, “I’ve completed the work that God gave me. I’ve fulfilled God’s purpose for my life.” If you’re going to do this, you need to decide now how you’re going to invest your life.
As your pastor, it’s my job to help you discover your life purpose and to make wise decisions on how to invest your life. In fact, we have an entire class – Richview 301 – dedicated to helping you discover the way God has SHAPED you. We look at five areas that help you discover your life’s contribution – your spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experience. If you haven’t taken Richview 301, you can register for the next one using your communication card. It will help you decide how you’re going to invest your life.
A lot of us think that we don’t really have anything useful to invest. We’re not even sure that we have anything to offer God or others. Would you agree that all of us have been given different amounts to invest? We’ve all been given different abilities, spiritual gifts, and levels of health. God has given every one of us something to invest, but the amount we have is different. The Bible says that some of us have been given different levels of ability. I used to worry that God didn’t give me enough ability to be able to even make an investment.
But I’ve learned that it’s not a matter of how much God has given you to invest – it’s where you invest that’s important. I read somewhere that if you invested $10,000 on the online retailer pets.com a year ago, you would have $35 today. But if you made perfect investments – if you had the exceptional ability to pick just the right stocks – that $10,000 could be worth a million today. You didn’t get to pick how much God has given you to invest, but you do get to pick where to invest your life. The best investment you could make is to invest your life according to God’s purposes for your life.
This week I heard a commercial about the information that investment professionals receive. Every morning they get expert analysis from all over the globe on trends and markets, which helps them make good investment decisions. The point of the commercial is, “You too can receive this investment advice by signing up with us.” It got me thinking – what would it be like to have expert advice from God on how to invest our life? This would help us avoid making dumb decisions. We could get to the end of our lives with a great return on investment.
The Bible gives us that sort of expert advice. It gives us not only principles but examples of how to wisely invest our lives. Today we’re going to look at one example – Moses. I like Moses as an example because the end result of his life was that he made a huge investment. His life made a big difference. But Moses didn’t always have a lot going for him. He sometimes let his temper out of control. He didn’t always utilize the skills and talents of others. He tried to do too much himself. He disobeyed God. He doubted his own abilities. Yet Moses invested his life and changed the course of history.
How can I invest my life? Four keys to investing your life God’s way:
1. REALIZE THAT I WAS BORN WITH A PURPOSE
The first key is to recognize that you were born for a purpose. I’m not talking about your parent’s purpose. There are a lot of us who aren’t here because our parents decided to have another baby. They didn’t plan to have us. But you were born with a purpose – God’s purpose. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.”
If you could pick a time to be born, you wouldn’t pick the time that Moses was born. Moses was born in Egypt when Pharaoh had ordered all the male Jewish babies to be killed. The only reason Moses survived was because of a secret plot to preserve his life, but that only lasted for three months. Eventually, Moses’ mother had to set him loose by sending him down the Nile River in a basket of reeds. Moses was born with a death sentence. You’ve heard of a dead man walking? Moses was a dead baby gurgling. But God preserved his life. God had a particular purpose for Moses to be born.
What was that purpose? God wanted to find someone who had leadership skills and who had a thorough knowledge of Pharaoh’s house. God wanted this person to receive the education and skills required to deliver the nation of Israel from Egypt and to be able to lead an entire nation – through battles, through adverse circumstances, through victories. That person would ideally know the intimate workings of Pharaoh’s household so he could know what he is up against when negotiating with Pharaoh. Where is God going to find such a person?
Moses was born at just the right time to accomplish God’s purpose. And when Moses was sent down the Nile in a basket, it was according to God’s purpose that Pharaoh’s own daughter adopted him into Pharaoh’s household. God had a purpose for Moses, and that purpose was being accomplished from the minute that Moses was being born.
How can I invest my life? It starts with realizing that God has a purpose for your life. God knew you long before you were born – long before you were ever conceived. Think about this. Out of all the parents in the world, God brought together two parents with the genes necessary to create you. Out of all the times in this world when you could have been born, God picked your birthday for your debut. Out of all the places in the world you could have been born, God selected your birthplace. And even before your mother knew that you were there, God had his hand on your life. God had a purpose for you to exist. And God has a purpose for your life today.
You may feel inadequate. You may feel discouraged with how your life is going. You may not even feel that you’ve made a difference. But God has a purpose for your life.
This means that you don’t get to decide your own purpose. You don’t get to sit down and say, “My purpose is to accumulate a lot of wealth and toys and have a lot of fun.” God has a purpose for your life, and God wants to use your life to accomplish something.
You haven’t lived until you’ve begun to discover and fulfill God’s purpose in your life. You weren’t born to take up space. You were born with a purpose. The first key to investing your life is to realize that you have a life worth investing. You have been custom-made by God. Realize that I was born with a purpose.
The second key to investing my life is this:
2. REMEMBER THAT GOD CAN USE ME DESPITE MY FAILURES
Has anybody here experienced failure? Not just a little one – a significant failure? Sure. We all have. We have a tendency to write ourselves off – to say that God could never use us because we’ve made too many mistakes. But the second key to investing my life is to realize that God can use me despite my failures.
We don’t know a lot about Moses’ early life. We do know that he grew up in great wealth in Pharaoh’s house. You can’t even imagine the wealth that Moses enjoyed. The next event that Scripture records is when Moses was forty year s old. Moses had discovered that the Jewish people, his people, were being forced to work as slaves. Not only that, but they were being very harshly treated. Exodus 2:11-12 says, “During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of the Hebrew slaves. After looking around to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.”
You get the impression that Moses hardly thought twice about this incident. But the next day, someone confronted him. Moses knew that his life was in danger, because Pharaoh wanted to kill him. Why did Pharaoh want to kill him? Not because he killed an Egyptian. Pharaoh wanted to kill him because Moses had shown himself to be a friend of the people that Pharaoh hated – the Egyptians. Moses had to run, and he ended up in exile for forty years. Moses blew it, and his mistake, and his mistake put his life on hold for forty years. He ended up as a shepherd in the dessert.
Think about how Moses’ life changed. He was used to having everything done for him. He had recognition and prestige. All of a sudden he was a wandering nomad. That would be like Prince Charles becoming a garbage man. Moses had to do the job that every Egyptian despised. Everything that Moses wanted done, he had to do himself. It looked like Moses’ life was over. But God wasn’t through with Moses yet. God used Moses in spite of his failures. In Exodus 3:10, God said to Moses, “Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You will lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
I keep hearing from people, “I’m not good enough to be used by God. I’m not a pastor. I’m not holy. God can’t use my life because I’ve blown it too much.” Whenever I hear that comment, I start laughing. I know a lot of pastors and let me tell you – it’s a mistake to think they’re holier than you! Ask my wife. Pastors struggle and blow it at least as much as you do.
But let’s move beyond pastors. Let’s look at great Christians in history. Surely they must have been more perfect. Charles Spurgeon – megachurch pastor from a century ago in London, called “The Prince of Preachers?” He struggled with depression and smoked cigars for the glory of God. D.L. Moody – the nineteenth century’s Billy Graham? A man with poor education. When he applied to join a church he was turned out twice because the deacons weren’t sure that he knew what he was talking about. John Calvin? A man with a short temper and a sharp tongue. Martin Luther? A sometimes vulgar man and always controversial. You could go throughout church history and discover that God always uses people with weaknesses and failures. God uses imperfect people.
In fact, look through the Bible. Abraham? A man who lied about his wife to protect his own skin. Moses? A murderer. David? An adulterer and murderer. Peter? An impetuous coward.
You may be sitting on the sidelines, thinking, “I’ve blown it. God can’t use me.” But you were born for a purpose. No matter how badly you’ve blown it, God can use you. God loves to use broken people.
The good news about Christianity is that God can use you despite your failures. The Apostle Paul – a man with great failures who was used powerfully by God – wrote these words:
How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for considering me trustworthy and appointing me to serve him, even though I used to scoff at the name of Christ…This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-and I was the worst of them all. But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:12-16)
There’s not a person here today who would argue that they’ve failed in life. It doesn’t matter how badly you’ve failed. You can get a fresh start from God. He can use your life in ways you haven’t imagined. How? By believing that Jesus Christ came into this world to give his life for you. He died to wipe out your failures. He rose again to give you a fresh start. You can receive a fresh start from God by turning your life over to him – by saying, “God, thank you for what Jesus Christ did for me. I’m putting you in charge of my life. Wipe out my failures. I follow you from this point on.” You’ve failed – we all have. If you want to be used by God, you need to accept the forgiveness that he offers.
How should I invest my life? Realize that I was born with a purpose. Remember that God can use me despite my failures. The third key to investing my life:
3. RELY ON GOD’S POWER
The third key to investing my life is to rely on God’s power. When God appeared to Moses and gave him his assignment, Moses thought what I would have thought. “Wait a minute, God. You’re asking the wrong person. You have up on me a long time ago. I’ve already proved I don’t have what it takes. You’re asking the wrong person!”
Listen to what Moses said:
“But who am I to appear before Pharaoh?” (Exodus 3:11)
“O Lord, I’m just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I’m not now, even after you have spoken to me. I’m clumsy with words.” (Exodus 4:10)
“Lord, please! Send someone else.” (Exodus 4:13)
Moses didn’t say it once. He said it three times. “God, you’ve got the wrong person. God, I don’t care if you’re going to help me or not. Count me out. I just don’t have what it takes.”
I’ve noticed that when it comes to investing our lives, we spend a lot more time looking at our weaknesses than at God’s ability. It’s a lot easier to think of why we shouldn’t obey God than to step out and do what he says. Some people overestimate their usefulness to God. But a more common mistake is to think that God can’t use us because we’re not good enough. Some of us are even proud, thinking that we’re just being humble. But God isn’t honored when we doubt his ability to use us. God can make a difference through us when we rely on his power.
God made three promises to Moses that apply to you as well that will help you with your weaknesses:
The first promise that God is made is that God will be present with you. God says, “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12). Jesus said, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth…and be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). When you serve God, you never serve alone. God never leaves you to serve him on your own.
The second promise God has made is that God will compensate for your weakness. When Moses complained about his clumsiness with words, God said, “Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go, and do as I have told you. I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say” (Exodus 4:11-12). I don’t know where you’re weak. But I do know that God can help you overcome your weaknesses. In fact, God often uses your area of greatest weakness so that when he’s done using you, you can’t take the credit. God’s power will compensate for any weakness you may have.
The third promise God has made to help your weakness is that God will provide you with all the resources you need. God said to Moses, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite…I will help both of you to speak clearly, and I will tell you what to do” (Exodus 4:14-15). God will give you the courage and the resources you need to do what he asks you to accomplish.
I’ve had a lot of conversations with God what he’s asked me to do. When I first sensed God directing me to be a pastor, I told him I didn’t have what it took. I had my own career path planned. I wanted to be a writer, not a pastor. I didn’t think I had what it took. I doubted that God could use me.
I did become a pastor, and God used me despite my weakness. Then I heard about Richview. I’ll never forget the first time I thought God might be leading me to Richview. I spent a sleepless night telling God, “There’s no way I’m going to that church!” I didn’t think God could use me. I knew my weaknesses. I knew my limitations. I could tell God all the reasons I wasn’t qualified. God’s answer? “Of course you’re not qualified. But I’ll go with you. I’ll give you strength. It’s not your job to be competent. It’s your job to obey.”
God’s been very clear with many of you what he would like you to do. He’s given you direction. But you’ve been arguing with him – some of you a lot more than the three times that Moses argued. If you’ve been holding back from obeying God, then it’s time today to take the next step and say, “God, of course I don’t have what it takes. But today I’m going to trust you. I’m going to rely on your power rather than my own.” Rely on God’s power rather than your own abilities.
One more key from the life of Moses on how to invest your life:
4. RESPOND TO GOD’S TIMING
I pulled out my pension statements this past week and looked at how my investments performed over the past year. I have one mutual fund that shot up 30% last year, and for a low fee I’ll be willing to tell you where to buy that fund! But I also had mutual funds that went down 4, 5, even 13%. Am I worried? Not really. I’m investing for the long haul. Some of my investments may not pay off right away, but that’s okay. I’m concerned about how the investments pay off over the course of my lifetime.
The mistake a lot of us make in our lives is that we don’t take a long enough view. God’s purposes for your life are bigger than this month or even this year. God has a plan for you that includes your entire life. He may spend years preparing you for his plan. But waiting time is never wasted time. God will accomplish his purpose in your life.
God spent forty years educating Moses on leadership in Egypt. He spent another forty years educating Moses on desert life. Moses was eighty before he discovered God’s purpose for his life, and it took another forty years to accomplish this purpose. That’s eighty years of desert time. Do you think this was the timing Moses would have picked? Absolutely not. But God isn’t in the rush that we are. Respond to God’s timing. God’s timing is always better than your timing.
I don’t really care how old you are, or how young you are. I don’t care what failures are in your past, or what abilities you don’t think you have. I do know that you were born with a purpose. God has a purpose for your life that goes far beyond your job or your hobbies. You need to discover that purpose, and to begin to live it out with his strength.
I have a friend who’s spending some time in the desert right now. I don’t understand it. He’s incredibly gifted. God has used him in my life and in the lives of others. But God’s never in a rush when it comes to character development. God is developing you to make a unique contribution, even though in your eyes there’s not much going on.
You may doubt your abilities. You’re too weak or you’ve experienced too much failure. You may think that you’re too young or too old. You may think that God has placed your life on hold. God has a plan for your life. You were born with a purpose. God can use your life to make a difference for eternity.
D.L. Moody once said, “If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced that it must be done by men and women of average talent. After all, there are comparatively few people in the world who have great talents.” God isn’t looking for exceptional people. He’s looking for you to accomplish your life’s purpose. God wants to make a difference using you.
Father, thank you that you use people like Moses. He was a man with character flaws and an inferiority complex. He disobeyed you, and he didn’t always make smart decisions. But you used him, and you can use us.
I pray that you would help every person here to discover his or her purpose. Help us to remember that you can use us despite our failures and our weaknesses. Help us to serve you no matter how old or young we are. And may we be able to say, at the end of our lives, the words that Jesus did: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” In his name we pray. Amen.