FIRST THINGS FIRST

From The Blessed Life Series – Week 1, Part 1.

Remember the TV show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with Robin Leach? Or, if you are a little younger, you might be familiar with the show Cribs.

Basically, both shows focused on abundance and what many would consider the blessings of rich and famous people. Huge mansions, private jets, expensive cars and jewelry. A look at what many times we wish we had. The American Dream!

When I was growing up, I had a Garfield the Cat poster that said, “The person who ends up with the most toys, wins!” That is the way the world teaches us to live. Material abundance and accumulation = blessing. “The world is mine” mentality.

God’s Word, however, presents a different principle.

Spiritual abundance and giving = blessing. The world is not mine, it is God’s, and everything in it is His as well, including my “stuff”.

I believe that God wants to show us some amazing truths from a particular, often overlooked principle…

Giving. It’s a topic that the church and many preachers shy away from for fear that the attendees don’t want to hear about it, or because too many TV preachers have misused this principle and made the thought of giving taboo.

While both of these thought patterns might be true to an extent, the reality is:

ONE: Giving is a biblical principle meant for His children

TWO: When we shy away from this discussion we cause many in our churches to miss out on the promised blessing we experience when giving.

We’re going to be taking a look at the “Blessed Life” over the next few weeks. God’s principle for giving.

Let’s start by defining the word “blessing”.

Blessing according to Webster’s Dictionary is: someone who is highly favored or fortunate.

Being “blessed” as far as our discussion is concerned means: having supernatural power working for you.

The days of a blessed person are filled with divine “coincidences” and heavenly meaning. The blessed man may or may not be wealthy by the world’s standards, but he enjoys a quality of life that most billionaires would envy.

That is the blessed life. But there’s more…

First Things First

It’s interesting to note:

– there are more than 500 verses in the bible concerning prayer, and

– over 500 verses concerning faith but,

– more than 2000 verses can be found on the subject of money and possessions.

Jesus talked about money in 16 of His 38 parables.

Clearly from God’s perspective money is important and we need to understand how to handle it. Money is in essence, a test from God!

Let’s look at the first of three principles regarding First Things.

1. Firstborn

We find an important financial precedent established in Exodus 13:2

Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.

Here, God plainly declares that the firstborn “is mine”. It belongs to Him.

In fact you will find God declaring the firstborn is His 16 times in scripture.

For example Exodus 13:12-13 says:

You shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord’s. Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.

We need to understand the principle of the firstborn. According to the Old Testament law, the firstborn was to either be sacrificed or redeemed.

Basically, every time one of your livestock animals delivered its firstborn, you were to sacrifice it. Or, if it was designated unclean, you had to redeem it with a clean, spotless lamb. To summarize, the clean firstborn had to be sacrificed and the unclean firstborn had to be redeemed!

Now, think about the account in the New Testament when John the Baptist meets Jesus and cries out, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Look again at the firstborn principle from Exodus. Do you see the symbolic parallel? Jesus was God’s firstborn Son, and He was born clean. He was born a pure spotless lamb. But every one of us was born unclean; therefore Jesus was sacrificed to redeem us.

When Jesus redeemed us by His sacrifice, He brought us back for God. Jesus was a firstborn offering!

We know that God gave Jesus as a sacrifice before we believed.

Romans 5:8 says, God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ dies for us.

So the principle of the firstborn shows an example of the fact that the first, belongs to God. We will see this principle all throughout God’s Word!

Here’s another powerful thought: when the firstborn lamb is born in a flock, it’s not possible to know how many more lambs that ewe may produce. Never the less, God didn’t say, “Let the ewe produce nine lambs first and then give me the next one.” No. God says, “Give me the first one.”

It always takes faith to give the first. That’s why so few Christians experience the blessing of tithing or giving. It means giving to God before you see if you’re going to have enough. By tithing, it’s as if we are saying to God, “I recognize You first. I am putting you first in my life, and I trust you to take care of the rest of the things in my life.”

[Come back tomorrow, we’ll talk about the 2nd principle regarding First Things and real Blessing!]

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