“Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception” (Ephesians 4:22 NLT).
I can tell you the answer right now: It will only happen if you choose to change, because it isn’t going to happen accidentally. You need to think ahead to where you need to be at the end of this year and where you need to be in three years, six years, and a decade from now. I want you to be better in 10 years than you are today, but you won’t be unless you choose to be.
Change requires a choice.
A lot of times we think we’re waiting on God to change us. No, you are not waiting on God. God is waiting on you! He’s waiting on you to say, “Yes, Lord, I’m willing to make these changes.”
We have to make intentional choices in order to grow. There is no growth without change, there is no change without loss, and there is no loss without pain. If you are going to grow, you will have to change, and change means you let go of some old things and grab hold of some new things.
It’s like swinging on a trapeze: The trapeze artist swings out on one bar, and then he has to reach out and grab the other bar. At some point, he’s got to let go of one to grab the other, or he’s not going to make it to the other side. If he thinks he can hold on to both, what happens? He gets stuck in the middle, and he’s going down.
Perhaps you are stuck in the middle, and you’re going down because you haven’t let go of the old patterns, the old habits, and the old ways of thinking. You have to let go of your old ways.
The Bible says, “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life” (Ephesians 4:22 NLT). In other words, let it go. Those old habits, those old hurts, those old patterns, those old sins in your life—let them go. The Bible says to throw them off and trust that God is working in you “to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13 NIV).
God Blesses You When You Tithe
Tithing is giving the first part of your income (traditionally 10 percent) back to God to honor him. So if you make ten dollars, you’d give one dollar back to God.
Does God need your money? Of course not. He owns it all anyway. But he wants what it represents – your heart.
Let’s take a closer look at today’s verse. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house.” What’s a storehouse? It’s wherever you worship. Your act of giving is an act of worship in the house of worship.
Did you know that in the Bible, this is the only place that says you can prove there is a God? God says, “Try tithing and see if I don’t exist. We’ll play a little game. You give to me and I’ll give to you and we’ll see who wins.”
I’ve been playing this game with God for 35 years and every year I lose. When Kay and I got married, we decided we would tithe the first 10 percent of everything we made. We even decided that if we were in debt, God would still get paid before anyone else. And I will tell you, sometimes it was scary. Sometimes I was out of work and I didn’t know where the money was going to come from, but God provided.
Trust God and see if he doesn’t “pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
God’s Investment Funds Yield Eternal Dividends
The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:18-19, “They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life” (NLT).
You are going to enjoy forever what you invest in Heaven, and you invest in Heaven every time you use money for good.
So how do you do that? Any financial advisor will tell you not to put all your eggs in one basket. You put your money into different funds for a balanced portfolio.
Did you know that God has given different funds that you can invest in for eternity? We’re going to look at three today and two tomorrow. These funds are proven. They have a track record. They’re protected. They are risk free, and they yield enormous dividends.
1. God’s Growth Fund. This is any time you invest in something that is going to grow your character. Proverbs 10:16 says, “The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin.”
So how do you enhance your life with your money? You use it to grow spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. When you use money to develop your skills and become mature, you are investing in eternity.
2. God’s Mutual Fund. This is every time you use money to encourage fellowship and build relationships with other believers. Romans 12:13 says, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
Why does God want you to use some of your money to show love to other believers? There are three reasons. First, it proves that you’re in God’s family. Second, it creates unity. And third, it’s a witness to unbelievers.
3. God’s Service Fund. This is when you invest in eternity by using money to serve others. God wants you to take some of your money and use it to help people who are in need.
Proverbs 11:24 says, “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller” (MSG). In other words, the more you help others, the more God blesses you. Why? Because God is a giver. He is generous, and he wants you to become like him. You do this by investing in your character, other believers, and people in need.