My money where my mouth is 1. The Personal investment
Key text: Phil 2:12-15
So we are officially in the second quarter of the year! by now all the New Year's resolutions are forgotten never mind not being done!
And we find ourself in the trap of this year being exactly like the last.
The question comes up is why don’t I see change in my life (or at least lasting change? )
This becomes a greater problem for us who are born again because when we first believed there was drastic change for most we experienced incredible growth but as the years go by this become less drastic and we settle.
and each year We commit to reading our Bibles more and doing more in church and being more committed to the things of Christ (maybe we slap in there the fact that we want to lose some weight as well)
but second quarter of the year hits us and we are in the exact same spot as we were last year maybe even in a worse spot!
Well that is what we are going to be addressing this for the next four weeks in a series I have called your money where your mouth is.
Ironically with this title we are not addressing the issue of money. We are dealing with why we don’t live up to the things we say we want to achieve and do.
It comes down to one reason; we simply are not willing to truly invest in the outcome of what we want or we are confused about the cost of getting there.
tonight I want to look at the personal investment. Why don’t we see personal change in our lives? Why do we want to get away from a sinful pattern of doing something and fail? Why do we see such little growth in our Spiritual life?
It comes down to are we truly invested in the outcome?
in the following weeks we will look at the communal investment, the church investment and finally the eternal investment.
If you have your Bibles please turn with me to Phil 2:12-15 if you would.
While you are turning there the reality about personal change is, from a Christian perspective, it requires you to be new. In other words for Christ to have taken your heart and changed it through you believing in Him.
That is why Paul suggests we are a new creation! personal change is rooted in the cross! so we have to start there; I want to suggest right from the beginning of this message that we need to stay there. However, we need to start at the cross, if you are not willing to accept your sinfulness and believe in Jesus Christ to save you from your sins then we cannot go on.
I believe you are saved so let's read.
On the surface this is one of those verses that seem like a contradiction from the get go; work out your salvation because God is working? What is it? God? or us? I want to suggest it is both but we'll get there.
First if you want to see personal change make sure you are
Investing in a sure thing
The difference between a bet and an investment is the investment expects returns where a bet hopes for it. Most of us bet on a change rather than putting our time and hope (our "investment") in things that will gain returns; why because on one level we want quick fixes that cost us nothing. But more important most of us are just lazy!
We're all like, "God I want to change and follow you more." and He is like, "Okay do the things that are obviously spoken about in my Word; don't neglect the fellowship of saints (get stuck into church (Heb 10:25); study the scripture and doctrine (Acts 2:45), look after the less fortunate, put into practice what you hear etc..."
and we're like, "Mmm that seems hard work, God I'm going to try this gimmick that promises results on the first try!"
And then we wonder why there is no permanent change in our lives.
We spend our lives betting on our Christian growth rather than putting Christian disciplines into place, trusting in the promises of God and working with and in the things that He says in His Word will help.
You want to see real change in your Christian walk; stop hoping for quick unsustainable programs; invest your time in the disciplines and church (where God has called you) your talent to growing the church through service and your treasure in giving to others and the extension of the Kingdom of God!
And you know what this takes hard work! It is not glamourous; it is sometimes boring (we try to make it not), and there sometimes times where the payoff takes years!
which leads me to the next reality which is;
You cannot hope to get a return from your investment if you haven't put anything of your personal wealth into it.
That would be like telling your friend, "You know my Berkshire Hathaway (the most expensive stock in the world) stock is through the roof!" and they say, "you bought Berkshire Hathaway stock?" to which you reply, "No, but if I had I'd be rolling in it at the moment!"
You cannot hope to benefit from an investment if you have not bought into it.
Yet this is how we treat our Christian growth (and our personal growth).
I read a poster the other day which said I did a push-up today. well actually I just fell over and had to pick myself up with my arms, but that still counts I'm going to reward myself with a chocolate!
We put the smallest amount of energy and effort into our Christian growth and wonder why there is no change!
The change comes and the growth comes when we are willing to take that which God has done in us through faith in Jesus Christ (the fact that he has made us new by the power of the Holy Spirit) and we are with fear and trembling are willing to work that out!
To make manifest that which God is doing in us!
Through committing ourselves to acts of service and study and fellowship and personal disciplines.
If we are unwilling to count the cost then don't expect any change.
Some would say this is great for a pastor but I have a job and you know the stresses of Joburg I'm just too busy; to that I would have to respond don't let your perceived busyiness rob you of the calling that God has placed on your life!
We are all busy; that is Joburg 21 century life; stop making excuses and start prioritising that which truly matters to you.
It amazes me that some of the most committed people we have in our church who are doing more than all the rest all have extremely demanding jobs who are probably the hardest working and most busy people in our community! Yet they stuck in; and you know what slow and surely they are also growing!
You know the story "I just don't have time for God at the moment..." hey guys we're doing a 12 hour lan... or Hey who's keen for a movie marathon?
God has given you enough time in your days and weeks for all that you need to do! You just need to prioritise that which needs to be prioritized.
If you want to see growth in your Christian life it is going to cost you! Are you willing to pay the investment?
finally we need to understand that
Investing is long term
Most investments only make sense in the long term. Back in the day Nats and I both put money in an Allen Grey account; due to the way the markets moved my first statement had less money in it that I had deposited! (our financial adviser said this might happened). However, with letting that money sit in that investment account and by adding little bits to it every now and again it has grown nicely!
But most investment worth their weight do not promise quick return rather long term results.
It is the same with the personal investment. Working out your salvation is not a quick fix it is a lifelong commitment that if stuck to will bring unimaginable results!
1 Cor 2:9
"However, as it is written: "What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived" -- the things God has prepared for those who love him--"
The reality is God want glorious things for us; but we have to partner with him in order for those things to become a reality!
And we are going to have to do this for the long run. Reading your Bible for a week every year is not going to facilitate Spiritual growth.
But as you implement Spiritual discipline that practice become a part of who you are and there is long term spiritual benefit from that.
Spiritual growth take work; years of work it takes God working in you and you working with God. But as we cooperate with Him so our lives become more His and so He gets more glory from that and there we find life and life in its abundance.
Now that you are super stoked for all the hard work ahead of you let me encourage you; simply starting is the best thing that you can do; it starts the snowball effect that leads to sustained and substantial Christian growth.
So you are not reading your Bible at the moment start; you are not involved in church get stuck in (anywhere). You aren’t tithing and giving start. You are not committed to a small group for spiritual input and growth join one.
Stop making excuses and get stuck in.
The reality is that we are not getting the Spiritual growth that we want in our lives because we simply are not making the necessary investment in that growth to warrant it!
God is calling us to more; to do more with Him for His glory, however we are not willing to walk in step with that there is no hope that we will become that which we desire to become in Him!
The simple truth is you are not where you want to be with God, so rather than feeling guilty about it and looking for the next fad or quick fix to get around it. Why don’t you stop and just get back to basics, start studying God's Word again daily actively, trying to meet Him in each study. Start doing more at church. Start doing more for the needy around us. and start working out your salvation with fear and trembling!
I pray that you might find hope in this strength in this and encouragement in this. God desire more from you so work with Him to see that become a reality in your life