Putting God first (AKA firstfruits). Remember when I wrote about that last month? http://youaretheoneiwant.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/first-fruits/
He’s taught me a lot in 30 short days. Today I opened His word to this passage (a book I’d never paid attention to!). The passage is a little lengthy but the message, AWESOME.
“Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. I have called for a drought on your fields and hills—a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get.”
Um, whoa. Harsh much? Not so fast…
What is God saying here? His message is: ”Get your priorities straight! This is why your house is in ruins…. why you have addictions you can’t satisfy…. why you work so hard but it’s never enough! You are giving what belongs to God – the firstfruits of your heart, your money, your devotion, your time – to another.”
Hasn’t God said He’s jealous for us (Exodus 20)? He will not sit by while we worship something else, something false. We are His children! Like any good father, He shows us when we veer off course, when we chase things that destroy us.
What kind of wife/husband would you be to ignore your spouse dating someone else — or to let your kids wander down a bad path that will cause them pain or even death, without correcting them? Would you be able to say you truly loved them?
So what did our loving God do to His people, who left His temple unbuilt and thus rendered them unable to worship Him? He sent disaster upon what they were relying on.
Why - because He hated them?
No, because He loved them intensely and wanted them to realize they were devoted to the wrong thing. He wanted to turn their hearts back to Him. He was crying out for them to love Him back, to return to Him, to rebuild His temple so they could worship Him once more.
THAT IS A PASSIONATE LOVE!
So the people of Judah responded: They started building God’s temple! And what did God do? Check out Haggai 2:
“Look at what was happening to you before you began to lay the foundation of the Lord’s Temple. When you hoped for a twenty-bushel crop, you harvested only ten. When you expected to draw fifty gallons from the winepress, you found only twenty. I sent blight and mildew and hail to destroy everything you worked so hard to produce. Even so, you refused to return to me, says the Lord.
Think about this eighteenth day of December, the day when the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid. Think carefully. I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”
He blessed them!!! For even beginning to walk in obedience, He spoke His blessing over their lives.
The coolest & most exciting part (to me)? This morning God spoke the same message to my heart: From this day onward I will bless you.
I believe it’s because we’ve been giving Him our firstfruits, honoring Him with the first of our crops (which we actually have, from our new garden!), our time (our mornings and the beginning of each month), our wealth (the first of our paycheck).
Have we been perfect? No, but we’ve started plodding the path of putting Him first. Proverbs 9 says God blesses people who give Him their firstfruits. We recognized this — that the firstfruits already belong to Him — so when we give Him what’s rightfully His, He blesses the rest.
And He wasn’t kidding: He’s blessing our faces off. No, we don’t share this to toot our horns. We share this to demonstrate that the Bible, when applied, changes our lives :)
May God give you grace to do the same!