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Put God First (2 of 4)

Mike Connell

Page 8 of 10
This is why he's called a Man of Faith, because he trusted God over this issue. If he offered God his first and his best that he loved, then God would somehow restore him, raise him up; God would fulfil the promise that he'd be a father of nations. It's an issue of Faith, and that's why he's called the Father of Faith - because he made what is almost an ultimate sacrifice, and in doing so, showed us just the great love that God had.

Here's the third area: gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. So one is honour - placing value on God; the second is faith - trusting that He can actually provide, better than I can provide for myself; and if I put Him first, I can then expect the blessings on everything that I do.

The third thing is Gratitude: am I grateful to God for all He's given me? How grateful am I? Now think about this: Abraham, in Genesis 14, had been blessed, and become very wealthy; and he came after a great battle, where he rescued his nephew Lot, and he met with Melchizedek, the high priest. The Bible says: “he gave him a tithe of everything”. Now he wasn't required to. He gave it as an issue of gratitude.

Now get this: immediately, the King of Sodom came to him. He said: listen, you can have all the goods, but give me the people.

He said: I will not take anything of yours, lest you say you got me rich. I want my total blessing and source to be in the Lord.

Now it's no coincidence, that at the point where he gave this offering to the Lord, there was a choice between: negotiating with the King of Sodom (or the spirit of Mammon); or dealing with Melchizedek, which is a type (or a picture) of Jesus Christ. Will I put God first, or will I put Mammon first?

He said: no way - I'll enter no deals with you. I want to put God first. He will be the source of my supply.

So again, notice that the motivation is one of gratitude. Now how much would you pay to get your soul out of hell? What would you put on the line, if you had a vision of hell, and you saw what it would involve for eternity? What would you be willing to give up, in order to BUY freedom from that? The answer is: you'd put everything on the line. However you don't need to; we only need to put one-tenth.

We're not buying anything. We're actually saying: God, it was too expensive to save me. You have saved me. You have given Your Son to save me. The least I can do is acknowledge, with gratitude, your generosity; and honour you and trust you, and give to you. It's very, very simple isn't it?

You find even in the New Testament, there's the last one here: it has to be of a Willing Mind. So the last thing is: will you give out of a willing heart; or will you give out of duty and obligation: I have to do this?

We have never in this church, ever said: you have to tithe. I've always avoided saying anything like that. Do I believe that we should tithe? Of course I do. We do, and we do it diligently and regularly; and we give, and have offerings, and are grateful for all kinds of things, ourselves personally.

But the thing is, I don't want anyone to come under the law. It has to be of a willing heart. When they came to offer for the building of the tabernacle, the first question God says: every person who is of a willing heart.

Paul is writing at the Corinthian Church, in 2 Corinthians 8, he says: “It's required, first of all, a willing heart”; so it's not a compulsion, no arm-bending, no twisting, no manipulation, no pressure - it's a willing heart.

A willing heart comes because you have revelation that God is good, and generous, and I want to honour Him, I'm so grateful to Him. When I do that, and give Him that, it's now an issue of Honour and Faith, and this is what brings the blessing on the rest.

Now if I'm going to give God the first, it needs to be the first - so it comes right off the top; and it's not at the end, when everything else is paid - it's the first.

When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23, he said to them: You will tithe; and you tithe off this and this and this.