In some homes, the family dog sits under the dinner table and waits to receive the leftover portions of the meal or the cast-off peas and green beans that the children don’t like. Unfortunately, we can often treat God like a dog, giving Him the leftovers of our time, our talents, our money, our energy, and our resources. If we work hard all day, encounter a lot of people, make a lot of decisions, and then come home tired and pray to God during the last two minutes before we fall asleep, we’re not giving Him much to work with!
We need to give God our firsts so that He can bless the rest.
Today’s message concerns the Principle of Firsts: we need to give God our firsts so that He can bless the rest. When you wake in the morning, give God the first time in your day, so that you’ll be aware of His presence all day, hear His voice as you face people and decisions, and recognize the blessings and opportunities He brings along. When you are about to date someone, go to God first and ask Him to show you if this is the person He wants for you - and save yourself a headache later on! When your paycheck comes in, give your offering back to God first. You can’t do these types of things without trusting God because you’ll just be worried that there won’t be enough leftover for yourself. But you can do them and receive God’s peace and blessings if you trust that you will have the things He wants you to have (not the things you want, your way, which may be self-destructive or destructive to others.) Your desires will begin to match His desires for you when you submit your will to His.
1. God blesses what is given. Luke 6:38
It’s easy to conform to your selfish nature and hold things back from God. Maybe you want to conduct your relationships your way, invest or spend your money your way, or make business decisions using your experience and your wisdom. But God blesses your outcome when you honor Him, offer your money for the glory of His kingdom, and ask Him to use your skills and talents for His purposes.
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38
Jesus’ words ask us to be generous and use our blessings to bless others. His goal is not that you would simply get by or for the blessings to stockpile just for you, but for you to be a conduit of blessing for others. He wants your blessing to be bountiful, pouring over like a shaken soda! Giving first requires sacrifice, or giving up things that you may prefer to keep for yourself, but His blessings return to you.
2. Our gifts need to be given first. Proverbs 3:9-10, Exodus 22:29
People often wonder if they can live the way they want and then come to God on their death beds and ask for forgiveness. Of course, God is faithful to forgive someone who believes and repents! But in waiting until the last moment to know and follow Him, the person has wasted her whole life! Walking with God is full of peace, joy, and rich blessings; doing things your own way and pursuing your own desires will never be as satisfying. Today is the FIRST day of the rest of your life, so give it to God!
Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine. Proverbs 3:9-10
When God’s people gathered their harvest, before any of it was eaten they would offer the first of the gathering to God. If you have a house, an apartment, or a cardboard box, honor God with it! Allow Him to use it. Invite people in, host a Bible study, give a friend some shelter for the night.
"You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me." Exodus 22:29
Do you want God to bless your time? Then give Him the first of your time in the day. Give to God as soon as you receive your paycheck. God doesn’t want to be your dog, taking the pennies you have left over to give to ministry. He wants you to give the first of what you have, trusting in the promise that His blessings will follow. If you honor Him first, you are giving God thanks and giving Him an opportunity to provide a continued blessing to you, but if you give Him the dregs after the best parts are used, the opportunity has passed. In the same way, talk to God early in the morning and ask for Him to walk alongside you during the day, rather than turning to Him at night after you’ve done all your actions, spoken all your words, and made all of your decisions.
3. Giving to God first secures a blessing on the rest. Romans 11:16
God’s blessing to use is to for us to be a source of blessing to others. Jesus came down from heaven and endured pain, suffering, ridicule, and even death - not for His own benefit, but so that He would bless others.
When we put God first, we are telling Him that we trust Him.
For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. Romans 11:16
Holy means set aside for the Lord. If we set aside our firstfruits for the Lord, we acknowledge that all we have belongs to Him. Don’t base your life on man’s blessings that can be taken away. God’s blessings make your heart full, give you peace, and provide the joy of being able to bless others.
4. Giving to God first demonstrates faith of more to come. 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23, Colossians 1:15-18
"You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me. And you shall be holy men to Me: you shall not eat meat torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs." Exodus 22:29-31
For God’s people to perpetuate their source of milk, meat, wool, etc., their livestock would need to reproduce. So if they sacrificed the firstborn of their livestock to God, they were vulnerable; they weren’t securing their futures, but trusting that God would bring more offspring for their use in the future. Gold asked His people to practice sacrificing their firstfruits so that they could see His faithfulness time and time again. Our tendency is to want to save and hoard for ourselves, and only give away any excess that we don’t need or want. But God wants more than our excess. He wants our trust.
Our challenge today is to trust God to provide His blessings in our lives and to take care of our needs. How will you give your firstfruits to God and acknowledge your trust and faith in Him?