1. In this stage of your life, who do you feel you influence? How are you purposefully investing in this person/these people?
2. In what area of life do you tend to play it safe the most?
3. In what ways has God gifted you and how are you using those gifts to give to others?
Good morning! Welcome to Hope City, my name is Peter and I’m the pastor
here at Hope City Church, if I haven’t had an opportunity to meet you I would
love to do that after service, or let’s find a time to grab a cup of coffee together,
Today, we’re wrapping up our series called It’s Just a Phase… where we’ve been
discovering that every phase of life is a gift from God, every phase of life is
beautiful, and every phase of life is filled with purpose. We’ve talked about the
scope of life and how king Solomon, the wisest man in the world has said,
3 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
We like this. It is comforting and encouraging. Nothing like hearing the
words… Don’t worry whatever you’re going through is a part of God’s plan.
Right? Who doesn’t love hearing these words?
It’s the words that follow this that no one really likes… Solomon writes,
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
Okay, sure we like the babies being born part, but we don’t typically like talking
about the time to die part. And yet one day every one of us will find ourselves in
this phase. Tiffany gets very uncomfortable when I talk about dying. “STOP IT!
YOU’RE BEING WEIRD.” I on the other hand, talk with people about dying with
some level of regularity.
Birth As a pastor, I have the privilege of performing people’s weddings, I’ve held
some of your babies when they were days old. And we’ve celebrated together.
But I also have the honor of being with families walking through the other phase.
Death I’ve lost track of how many funerals I’ve done for people. I had a friend
who was a funeral director, and He would ask me to fill in for families who didn’t
have anyone to perform the funeral service. I always talk with the family before I
do a funeral, to come up with something to say about this person. I usually ask
the family and friends questions like, “Tell me about your loved one.” What did
they love, or what did you love about them?
Sometimes people start looking around the room as if to say, “not it.” Your turn.
Can you come back to me, like when you’re in the restaurant and you don’t know
what you’re ordering…
I looked at my notes on some of the past funerals I’ve done, and here’s one of
“She loved gardening, boating, the beach. She loved her dogs, Puffy and Dena.
She was young at heart.”
This is great and all… but… am I supposed to talk about Puffy and Dena?
Then there are some funerals that I do where you can’t write quick enough,
because the family and friends can’t stop talking about the ways that this person
impacted their life and changed their world.
They say things like, “If it wasn’t for this person, I don’t know where I would be
today. It’s because of my friend, my dad, or my aunt, that I’m who I am today.”
They were the kindest, loving, most genuine person. They showed me what it
was like to love Jesus and love other people. They never stopped praying for
me, they never stopped loving me even when I went through my unlovable
It seems to me that there are two kinds of people. There are people who are so
focused on living out their life. These people are always chasing after their
comforts, their concerns, and their celebrations. Or there are people who are
focused on living a life that is larger than them. They find ways to partner with
people and organizations that impact the world in ways that no one person could
You can do one of two things in this life. You can live out your life, or your
life can outlive you. The choice is up to you! It doesn’t matter what phase you
are in, this is a true statement. I don’t care if you’re a college student, newly
married, starting your career, parenting, or beyond. Whatever phase you find
yourself in, you have the ability to INFLUENCE.
We are all going to find ourselves in a phase that is quite possibly one of the
most exciting phases of life. This phase is often talked about, seldom
understood, and it’s the Empty Nester Phase, like, do you really get to just walk
around in your underwear all day? Is that how it goes? I mean, I’ve heard about
this phase, but I’ve never experienced it myself.
Here’s what I do know… I know that many people find themselves struggling in
this phase, because they wonder, what am I supposed to be doing right now. I
used to ___________ and then they fill in the blank. I used to have kids at home.
I used to run the company, I used to organize the parties. I’ve got this big house,
and now it’s filled with empty rooms. Things are different now. I used to be an
influencer, and now I’m an empty nester.
The problem lies when we find ourselves on the other side of a few of the
phases, we start to wonder, what am I doing now? Where do I matter now?
I hope that no matter what phase you are in today, that you’ll lean in a little bit as
we close out this series. There is something for everyone of us to learn today.
Turn with me to Matthew chapter 25:14-30. That’s found on page 677 in the
Bible’s around you. Let me set the scene for you. Jesus is walking with his
disciples, and he walks past the Temple and starts talking to his friends about
things to come, particularly the time when Jesus would come again. And Jesus
starts talking about the importance of being aware, and staying engaged, and
prepared. And then Jesus tells this interesting little story about a successful
business man. Look at what He says:
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted
his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents,
and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 1
Here is this successful businessman, who is going away for a time. We don’t
know where he’s going, but we know that he’s going to be traveling. And so he
takes his money, and says to three individuals I want you to take care of this.
He entrusts his property with them. Look what happens.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with
them. 20 The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he
said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with
a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s
22 “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with
two talents; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with
a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s
Two of the guys took what was given to them and they did something with it.
They grew it, they increased it, and they put it to work. But don’t forget the third
24 “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that
you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have
not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.
See, here is what belongs to you.’
In other words, I was scared, so I dug a hole and covered it over with dirt. Or, I
put it under the mattress. I stuck it in the fire proof lock box in the closet. Now,
how do you expect the Businessman to respond? Okay, you didn’t lose it. Well
played? Or, Good job playing it safe? NO WAY… Look at this.
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I
have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should
have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have
received it back with interest. 3
Jesus shares this story, because He wants us to understand something very
specific. God is like this master, or this business man. He has entrusted every
single person in this room with a talent, with a gifting, or a skillset. And this story
is begging the question, What are you going to do with it?
It is possible to live out your life and do nothing with it. OR, it is possible to live a
life that is so filled with meaning and value that it OUT LIVES YOU!
The question is which will it be for you? It seems to me that there are three ways
to live your life. You can WASTE your life, SPEND your life, or INVEST your life.
Hollywood, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and every other streaming device is
vying for your attention. They’re begging you to waste your life away by simply
entertaining yourself everyday. How many episodes of Greys Anatomy can you
Advertisers are working around the clock to find new ways to entice you to give
up your money, buy into the hype and spend your life on comfort and acquiring
stuff. But it’s on Amazon Prime! I can have it delivered today. Yeah, but you
don’t need it tomorrow!
But what if Jesus was showing us that there is another way, a way to INVEST
your life in INFLUENCE. A way to live your life in such a way that it pays RICH
I can’t think of a phase in life when there is a group of people more qualified and
able to invest in the lives of others and impact this world than all of you empty
nesters in the room. Yes, you’re just as busy, you’re just as stressed, and you
have just as many life pressures facing you. But do you know what else you
have? Experience. You’ve gone ahead of us. You’ve seen things and done
things and lived to tell about it. So, do that. Tell us about it. We value you. We
honor you. WE NEED YOU. There are a lot of us in this room who are trying to
figure out how to navigate all of these phases of life that you’ve already been
through. Would you invest your life in us? This is why Connect Groups are so
important to our church! Circles are better than rows…
Jesus shares this story with us, to help us see three reasons why we can easily
miss out on being an INFLUENCER and INVESTOR in the lives of others.
One of the first things that prevents us from Influencing the lives of others is that
Pt. 1 WE PLAY IT SAFE. We just flat out don’t try hard enough. SAFETY is the
opposite of RISK. RISK is the opportunity for something great to happen with the
potential for something hazardous to occur.
When I was a teenager, I did some of the riskiest things… And so did you! But
WHY? Because your desire to achieve greatness outweighed the possibility of
pain in your life. I grew up with several best friends. And we lived about a mile
and a half from one another as the crow flies. Which meant that if you biked
through the woods, through people’s backyards, and did just a little bit of
trespassing you could make it about 2 miles. Well, we biked everywhere. We
biked through the woods, down the streets, and rode everywhere.
One day, I got the idea that a two-wheel bike had to be able to be ridden in more
than just one way. I thought that everyone riding a bike the classic way was just
going with the flow and there had to be an even better way, more impressive way
to ride a bike than just sitting on it.
So I slowly started to lift my feet off the pedals, I’m cruising downhill, and I put
one foot on the frame of the bike, and I brought my second foot up on the
crossbeam on the bike, and while still holding the handle bars, I brought my
second foot up. And then in a moment of sheer bravery, I risked it all, and stood
up, surfing my mountain bike. I FELT LIKE A HERO for about 5 seconds… and
then I hit a curb and went flying! Was this safe? NO WAY. But was it amazing?
For a few seconds!!!
What did you do as a teenager that you would never do now? Or here’s another
question… would you let your teenager do half the stuff you did as a teenager?
Some of your kids bikes still have training wheels on them…. They’re going to
college… it’s time to take them off! Okay?
I’m afraid We RISK TOO LITTLE, we play it far too safe! This is exactly the
position the third person in Jesus’ story found themselves in.
18 But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and
hid his master’s money. 4
He played it safe. If you want to be an influencer you can’t play it safe. You’ve
got to be willing to take risks. Do you know what that looks like in the lives of
Relationships. Letting them get to know you and see the real you. You can
invest in people from a distance, but you influence them up close. Getting
close to people is risky. Quit playing it safe. Get in relationship with people.
A second thing that keeps us from influencing the lives of people is when PT. 2
WE’RE FOOLISHLY MOTIVATED. Everything that you do, or don’t do is driven
by motives. Our motives direct our actions. And so if we’re not careful, our
motivations will impact our actions which determine our outcomes. It’s no
wonder that sometimes we get to the end of the day, the end of the week, or the
end of the year and we say, what happened? I thought it was going to be so
much better than this, or I’d get so much more accomplished than this you may
need to check your motivations.
This third guy had FOOLISH motivations. Look at what happened…
‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering
where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in
the ground. Matthew 25:24-25
FEAR was the driving motivation for this guy. He was afraid, and in his fear he
foolishly hid his talent and did nothing with it. What values drive what you are
doing these days?
I know that a driving value in our culture is success. Success seems to be the
leading value of the day. And yet, we need to check what are we successful at?
If we’re successful today, but our children are not followers of Jesus tomorrow,
we’ve failed! So, yes, you may have gotten the raise, moved into the bigger
office, or been able to purchase the vacation home. But at what expense?
What is motivating you these days? An influencer says, what do I have to give.
A consumer says, what do I have to gain? Are you motivated by what you have
to gain, or what you have to give?
And at the end of the day, Jesus shows us one more thing in this story… Look
how it ends… The businessman says,
28 “ ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For
everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does
not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless servant
outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 5
This guy, is stripped of what he had, and he’s thrown outside. He’s fired. He’s
not going to be involved in what the master is doing. See, when we Play it Safe
and choose to be foolishly motivated, PT. 3 WE MISS THE MOMENTS. These
are the moments that at the end of our phase, at the end of our days, we look
back on them and say, MAN… they were hard, they were challenging, but they
were some amazing moments.
This past Tuesday night we had our monthly staff meeting and we took some
time to celebrate some of the moments that God has allowed us to be a part of
here at Hope City Church. Look at this picture right here. These are the
numbers from 2018. 60 kids. Averaging 25 students a week, we had 104 adults
in service, and a total attendance of 212 people. Last week we had 133 kids, 42
students, 157 adults in service, and 351 people at church.
Let me tell you there is nothing more exciting than being involved in the lives of
people, and being in your moments. Watching as people grow in relationship
with one another and with God…. If it wasn’t for the time, effort, and energy that
this staff team has poured into our church over this past year, we wouldn’t be
seeing such incredible growth here at our church. If we played it safer, we
wouldn’t witness people taking their next steps in their journey of faith. We
wouldn’t have a dynamic Student ministry. A kids ministry that is busting at the
seams. It’s a decision. A decision that understands if we’re not careful WE
MISS THE MOMENTS.
In fact, as a church we’re placing a flag in the ground saying, Life is just a
phase… WE REFUSE TO MISS THE MOMENTS! We want to follow Jesus into
Several years ago, Tiffany and I looked at each other, looked at our kids, and
said, it’s time for life insurance. So we sat across the desk from our insurance
agent and filled out paper work, signed on the dotted line, and agreed to pay a
set amount every month to ensure that my three kids would be taken care of if
something were to happen to us prematurely. We made a conscious decision,
we looked at our kids and we said, we want to invest in something today that
takes care of you tomorrow when I’m gone.
This is what Jesus is inviting you to do with you life. The quickest way to get a
life that outlives you, and outlasts you is to invest in something, or someone
today that will take care of them tomorrow.
I want to encourage you, give your life to something that is worth talking about,
something that will outlive you. God has given every single one of you a talent.
He’s given you resources, he’s given you finances, and he’s given you
relationships. What you do with them is up to you. If you’re not careful, what
you live for today will die with you tomorrow.
Life is just a phase. It’s a series of moments, and it’s easy to miss. But your life
could be more than just a phase. It could be the start of a LEGACY.
This is why from DAY 1 here at Hope City we have established a LEGACY
FUND for people to give to. This is above and beyond our tithes and offerings.
This is given for special projects that will outlast us. Things that will go beyond
us. This is the fund that allows us to plant trees that our children will pick the fruit
from. This is a fund that will allow us to one day have a permanent home here at
Hope City, a base of ministry operations that we can bless our city and reach our
city in Jesus name!
In the same way that Tiffany and I are investing in our future with insurance, the
legacy fund here at church is investing in what could be and will be one day.
Tiffany and I are digging our well before we need it. I think that it is the best thing
that I can do for my wife and kids right now. Certainly, there are other ways we
could spend that money… but we want to invest today what will care for our kids
tomorrow. Here at Hope City, we’re closer to a permanent home today than we
were a year ago. We’re closer to growing out of this space, and I wonder if one
of the ways that you could invest in tomorrow is by giving to the legacy fund
today. You can give to the legacy fund online, in the envelopes, or even set a
recurring offering to the legacy fund.
All of us are able to leave a legacy. The defining moments in life don’t come
when you make money or invest in wealth but when you invest in people and in
what God is doing around you. The most meaningful moments in life are when
you are meaningfully connected with God, with what He’s doing around you, and
Can I ask you today, what are you doing that will outlive you?
Remember, Life is just a phase. Let’s not miss it.
1 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Mt 25:14–15). Grand Rapids, MI:
2 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Mt 25:19–23). Grand Rapids, MI:
3 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Mt 25:24–27). Grand Rapids, MI:
4 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Mt 25:18). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
5 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Mt 25:28–30). Grand Rapids, MI: