I love listening to past sermon series from my church. It’s like finding an old journal and reminiscing on things you forgot you knew, forgot you loved, forgot you thought. My favorite place to listen to them is in the car, because when you’re the mother of a toddler and an infant, the car is one of the few places where you can actually focus on something for any length of time. I find myself looking for excuses to drive just so that I can listen to sermons. My pastor, Robert Morris, is very anointed and his teachings always strike a chord with me, every time, without fail.
Recently I’ve been listening to the Blessed Life sermon series on tithing and giving your first to God. As I was listening to the sermon today about first fruits, something hit me. God blesses us when we give him our first fruits because he gave us his first fruits, his first and only son – Jesus Christ. He asked us to do this so that we would be blessed and provided for. The Bible promises provision and protection when we give the first 10%, every time. In my own life I have experienced this in a very real way. I’ve always tithed but it’s always been on my terms – giving as I felt we were able to give. Maybe 10 percent sometimes, but most of the time 5 to 7%. And never on the gross. But a little over a year and a half ago I finally picked up my copy of the Blessed Life book, which I am ashamed to say I had had for over seven years and never read it. What I read opened my eyes because I knew that I had been missing out on great blessings and I knew that it was time to make radical changes. So my husband and I prayed together and we took the plunge and began tithing 10% of the gross. It was really scary at first because I didn’t see how we could ever afford it. But as God promises in scripture, he has been faithful to provide, even when it doesn’t add up on paper. And when I look back on our finances over the past year and a half, I see the Right Hand of God in such a way that I am astounded.
But that’s not the reason why I’m writing this today. That’s for another time. When I listened to the sermon again about the first fruits and the reiteration of the things that God has shown me so remarkably, I realized that this principle goes far beyond our finances. The principle of first fruits can bless any area of our lives that we apply it. Let’s take a look at Hannah in I Samuel. Hannah was barren, but wanted a child desperately. She would spend her time by the tabernacle just crying and praying constantly, to the point that the priest (Eli) thought she was drunk all the time. But she wasn’t drunk, she was just faithfully crying out to God to hear her prayer. She promised God that if He would just give her a child, she would give that child back to Him. And finally, after many years and countless prayers, she became pregnant with Samuel. As promised, when Samuel was born, she dedicated him to God’s service and Samuel went on to be one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament (see I Sameul 1:1-18). I’ve always loved that story because it taught me from a very early age that if we are faithful, God will answer our prayers. And I have come to understand that more importantly, when we pray in God’s will our lives are blessed abundantly.
So why shouldn’t the same apply to our own children? If we dedicate them to Him first, wouldn’t He bless them and keep them from the curse? Wouldn’t He provide provision and protection over them if we, their parents, are faithful to give them to Him first and foremost? And to take it even further, if we were to discipline ourselves to start this principle with our firstborn, teaching him/her to stand on the foundation of Christ’s grace, wouldn’t it then trickle down to our other children? Wouldn’t they not only see the example of their oldest sibling, but also benefit from parents who have taught themselves, from day one, to “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” (Proverbs 22:6)?
I remember when I was younger my mother would say that if we wait one day to discipline our children, we’re a day too late. I always found that saying curious – are we to start spanking our children on the day they’re born? See, back then I didn’t understand the difference between discipline and punishment. I see now that discipline is a positive thing as it teaches us, young and old, to go the way we should go, do the things we should do, think the way we should think, and speak the way we should speak. Discipline is a gift from God for those whom He loves. Shouldn’t we impart that same gift on our children from day one?
The principle of the firstfruits, as applied to my children, means to me that I will give the first of them to God. I will look to teach them first, punish last. I will strive to point their precious little hearts to God first so that they will understand from the earliest of ages the benefits of seeking Him. The principle of the first fruits, as applied to my children, means that I will start with the oldest, from day one, teaching him the ways of God that he might not part from them, knowing that God will bless that which we give to Him first, and knowing that if I’ve taken the time to teach my oldest child, I will be prepared and equipped to teach the rest as well.
If you give the first, the rest will be blessed. If you give the last, the left overs, there’s no faith in that, and the rest will be under the curse. Makes perfect sense. It’s time to start applying it everywhere I can, starting with my babies.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” ~Malachi 3:10 (NLT)
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