There are so many things that clamor for our attention and devotion: our jobs, our kids, our spouses, our hobbies—the demands and distractions of life. And we have to be careful not to let them become more important or more of a priority than our relationship with God. The key to having God’s “abundant life”—His love, peace and joy—is keeping Him in His rightful place in our priorities. Sometimes it’s good when things don’t add up. It is keeping God first in our lives. When God is in the equation, we can end up with a lot more than we expected. In “Multiply”, we learn what happens when we put God first in our lives.
Something To Talk About:
The bottom line for this week’s message is “When God becomes first He blesses everything.”
God must be first in all areas of your life, but is He? Sometimes we allow the busyness of life to grasp our hearts subtly so that we aren’t even aware of it. However, if we seek the Lord first in everything we find that our lives are much fuller and contented than when we are trying to keep up with everyone else around us. God is first in your life when you choose His purposes and plans over everything else.
- The first born must be sacrificed or redeemed: This is from Exodus in the Old Testament, talking about clean and unclean animals. The unclean is redeemed with the sacrifice of something clean. This points to Jesus; each of us were born unclean, and He was born clean. He is our sacrifice, our tithe. We give our tithes first, by faith, instead of waiting to see what is left over.
- The first fruits must be sacrificed: We bring the first fruits; we do not give them, as they do not belong to us. Cain’s offering was not acceptable because it was just an offering, not first fruits, whereas Able brought a firstborn animal. God cannot act outside His character; He doesn’t change or think like we do. God can never be second, so He cannot accept an offering that is not first. This idea of first fruits that God was sowing in His people’s minds had a much bigger scope than just harvests, beasts, or property. It means offering God the best of ourselves in a more full, and more complete way which comes from the heart. This concept is summed up in Romans 12:1 which says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” When we offer God our whole selves, it is our first fruit, AND our “promise to come!”
- The tithe must be first: We should tithe because it belongs to God. Leviticus 27:30 tells us: “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” You will never be able to afford to tithe until you tithe. There are many blessings that go along with tithing, but it is the principle of faith and putting God first that initiates these blessings.
- What areas of our lives do we need to put God first?
- Read Proverbs 3:9-10, Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:19. What is the first fruit?
- What is the significance of the tithe being “brought” versus “given?”
- Read Exodus 13:1-2. Discuss what the word “belong” means. What does it mean to sacrifice? To redeem something?
- Reread Proverbs 3: 9-10. What does it mean to honor the Lord from our wealth? How can we know that our barns will be filled today? Is this passage limited to material things?
- Read Leviticus 27:30 aloud. Discuss other ways we can “tithe” besides our incomes (time, talents, serving others, etc.). What are some other ways you are ”tithing”?
- Share some ways that God has used finances to grow you, to discipline you, or to bless you and bring you closer to Him.
- What steps do we need to take this week to put God first?
Take One Thing Home with You
Proverbs 3:6 says, “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”
It is the goal of every Christian to experience a deep, intimate relationship with God. That requires us to allow Him to rule in every area of our life. Typically, there are areas that are off limits to God. Areas where we constantly look to other people for answers and validation. It is in those areas where we need to look to God. 1 Thessalonians 2:4 says, “but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”
When you decide to serve God with your whole heart and make Him first in your life, your life will be better. God doesn’t expect you to live for Him in your own strength or ability, and He understands when you make mistakes. So if you mess up, don’t be discouraged and let it hold you back. God will give you grace to do what you need to do. Don’t let your past or your present prevent you from living the purpose-filled, joyful, and effective life when we put God first in all things.