I am proud of you!
You’ve made it to Session 5 of New You and we are well on our way to creating healthier rhythms and patterns in our lives!
First Things First
The formula for stress-free finances is simple:
Live on the remaining 80%
Today we’re going to put first things first.
It may feel scary, but we will discover that when we completely trust God’s Word and obey God’s ways with His resources, we will experience God’s best for our lives… blessings!
I love the ancient city of Jerusalem.
For thousands of years, God’s people have always turned to Him in times of trouble.
And God always answers the cries of His people.
Jerusalem has a rich history of how God has intervened to rescue His people.
The biggest example is when God sent His Son into the world to save the world.
You matter to Him.
Healing at the Pool of Bethesda
One of the most famous moments in the life of Jesus occurs in John chapter 5. While in Jerusalem, Jesus walks by the Pool of Bethesda (pictured behind me in the above photo).
Imagine the sight: hundreds of people stuck, wanting to move forward in life.
Day after day they would wait and wait.
They had tried doing things their own way; now it was time to trust God’s way.
Do You Truly Long to Be Healed?
This man had been stuck for years and years.
Many of us have also been stuck - paralyzed - in our personal finances.
When Jesus sees the man stuck, Jesus already knew the man’s personal history.
It’s the same with you.
God is not surprised.
And He’s not mad at you today; He’s inviting you into a new journey.
The only question you need to answer for yourself is this: Do you truly long to be healed?
Your Pool of Bethesda
Because modern-day Jerusalem has been built upon centuries and centuries of layered history, the ancient Pool of Bethesda where Jesus actually healed the paralyzed man is deep below the earth.
You have to travel down several flights of stairs before the musty smells of history waft into your nostrils.
It’s only when we dig down below the surface that we discover the heart of the matter.
Putting God first is not a financial decision; it’s always a spiritual decision.
Whatever you seek out first — that’s what you worship.
God must be first.
Because He is first.
Before anything else was, God was.
He created everything, including you and me.
God reveals to us in the Bible how to keep our priorities straight and keep God first.
It’s called firstfruits.
And if you truly desire to get unstuck from your personal Pool of Bethesda, you’re going to have to trust God on this new journey forward.
Honoring God First by Bringing Him the First
When God delivered the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, one of the first things He did was help them understand how to be in relationship with Him.
God gives the people He loved keys to being His possession and to succeeding in the Promised Land they were about to enter.
One of the most significant of these was the principle and practice of the firstfruits offering. This was an offering at harvest time where farmers would bring in to the priests of the Tabernacle offerings of the very first crops to have ripened.
Twice - in Exodus 23:19 and again in Exodus 35:26 - God says, “The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the House of the LORD your God.”
Did you notice that it’s not just the firstfruits that God is to receive here, but rather the first of those firstfruits! As we’re about to see, first things are very, very important to God.
Firstfruits in Finances
The word tithe means “tenth.”
Just as God declared the firstborn of the Israelite’s flocks to be His, and the first of the ripening harvest to be His, so He also declares the tithe to be His as well.
Of course, most of us don’t earn our living through farming anymore. And even farmers convert their crops into cash these days.
That means your tithe/firstfruits offering will almost always be in the form of money. And the biblical principle is to give a tithe of your “increase”:
First. Firstborn. Firstfruits.
We see this heavenly pattern for worship repeated throughout Scripture.
Is it because God is greedy or needy?
Is God insecure or demanding?
Why would a God who owns everything ask you for 10 percent of your income each pay period?
The answer is that God is not really interested in your money.
He’s interested in your heart.
The things of God always come down to the status and motivations of your heart.
He wants to help you keep your heart set and focused on Him because that’s the only way you can experience all the goodness in this life that He wants you to experience and, more importantly, make the largest eternal impact for His kingdom.
Tithing is not legalism. It’s life. Spiritual life.
It’s hard to overemphasize this: the practice of faithfully tithing is neither for Him nor about Him. It’s for you. About you.
That’s why tithing is really the principle of putting God first.
A Reminder and a Test
The tithe exists as both a reminder and a test.
It’s a reminder that God actually owns it all.
And it’s a test of whether or not God is truly in the first-place position of your life.
It’s also a test because it takes faith and trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God to bring His 10 percent to Him first before you start addressing your other physical needs.
There is no faith involved if you wait until all your other bills are paid to bring God’s tithe to Him.
What does it say about out priorities when we diligently pay everybody else first and then see if there is enough left over to give God His portion?
Yet the tithe is much more than a test. It’s actually a spiritual pathway for God to enter your circumstances and place His blessing on the remaining 90 percent of your income.
This stems from the little-understood spiritual principle that a firstfruits offering to God redeems all the remaining portion. The first bit, as it is offered, carries the power to redeem the rest. This is the essence of Paul’s message in Romans 11:16:
Let me ask you this honest question:
Would you rather have 100 percent of your income with no blessing on it or 90 percent of your income with God’s wholehearted supernatural blessing on it?
The first portion is the portion that redeems the rest.
The first portion carries the blessing.
That’s why you don’t want to give the first portion to the mortgage company, the finance company, or your cell phone provider. Those entities carry no power to redeem and bless your remaining finances!
Your Bible is literally saturated with this concept. We’ve already seen it in Proverbs 3:9-10 where the wise King Solomon advises us to honor the Lord from the first of all our increase.
We also see it:
In Genesis 4 when God accepts Abel’s offering because it represented his first
In Genesis 14 when Abraham brings God the tithe
In Genesis 22 when God asks Abraham for Isaac because he was his firstborn
In Joshua 6 when God declares Jericho (the first city they conquered) His
In 1 Kings 17 when the widow trusts God first and her resources are miraculously blessed
In Matthew 6:33 when Jesus tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be added to you (notice the placement of first)
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.
Trusting God with your first 10% redeems the remaining 90%.
Obeying God with your first 10% tests God with the remaining 90%.
As I often say, God can do MORE with YOUR 90% than YOU can do with 100%!
It’s Your Move
So, what are you going to do with this biblical principle?
When you put the Lord first in your finances by devoting the first tenth of all your increase to Him, something remarkable and significant happens:
Wouldn’t you be foolish not to accept that deal?
What rational person would say no to that offer?
Yet millions upon millions of Christ Followers say no to it month after month.
The fact that you’ve stuck with me so far tells me that you truly want to apply biblical wisdom in your finances and experience the New You.
Well, there is no key more impactful than this one.
God must be first.
And when you put Him first in your finances by tithing, something remarkable and significant shifts in your heart.
What’s more, in doing so you activate the spiritual principle of firstfruits, opening up a pathway of access for God to redeem and work and bless and multiply throughout every area of your lift.
First things first.
1) What challenged you the most in this session?
2) What usually comes first in your daily life?
3) What is holding you back from fully trusting God with this area of your life?
4) Do you want to experience Stress-Free Finances?
5) Write down this simple truth: I am choosing to put first things first starting today. I am choose faith over fear. I am choosing to bring my God the tithe from this day forward.
I’m proud of you and cheering you on!