Episode 1. New Offering
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Most people on planet earth look at things and ask themselves … so what’s in it for me? That’s the way we tend to evaluate our options. There’s just one small problem with living life that …
Most people on planet earth will look at things and ask themselves … so what’s in it for me? That’s the way we tend to evaluate our options. There’s just one small problem with living life that way; it simply doesn’t work.
It’s true isn’t it? The world is full of options for us. I mean I look at the career options that kids seem to have before them today, there are so many of them. It just didn’t seem that way when I was making those decisions forty years ago.
Look at the entertainment options that we have – the whole smartphone and tablet computer revolution, the way the internet has put everything in the palm of our hands. So often, when I’m out say at a café, I see parents with young children. Now, back in my day, keeping the kids entertained and quiet was a challenge. These days though, these tiny tots are sitting there playing their favourite game on mum or dad’s phone or tablet.
There are travel options, options about where we live, how we live, where we work, how we work. I’m trying to think of my grandfather who was born in Romania back in 1889. He lived in a house that didn’t have glass on the windows, but animal skins. And I think back to his grandfather who was born in the late 1700’s not long after Australia was first colonised.
I don’t know, but I’m imagining that they had far fewer options than we do today. They had far fewer choices to make, than we have to make today. So … here you and I are, with all these options and choices, and our primary measure, our primary assessment tool is – what’s in it for me? Which one of these is best for me?
Will we go to the movies this Saturday afternoon, or will we go out to dinner? Or would you rather stay home and watch something on Netflix on the 55 inch HDTV in the living room?
We don’t think about it – but that’s what’s going on, day after day after day, right? In your life and in my life. And the more choices we’re given, the more focussed we become on deciding – which one is best for me? And so without even thinking about it, we’re on our way down a slippery slope:
Matthew 7:13–14 You can enter true life only through the narrow gate. The gate to hell is very wide, and there is plenty of room on the road that leads there. Many people go that way. But the gate that opens the way to true life is narrow. And the road that leads there is hard to follow. Only a few people find it.
It’s a wide road, it’s an apparently easy road, this road to self–gratification and there are many today who unwittingly find themselves on this road. The problem is that it leads to pain along the way, and destruction in the end.
1 Timothy 6:9,10 People who want to be rich bring temptations to themselves. They are caught in a trap. They begin to want many foolish things that will hurt them. These things ruin and destroy people. The love of money causes all kinds of evil. Some people have turned away from what we believe because they want to get more and more money. But they have caused themselves a lot of pain and sorrow.
It’s true, it ends up in a lot of pain and sorrow, and as we’ve stepped over the threshold of this new year, there are all too many people living in that pain and that sorrow. Maybe you’re one of them. Maybe someone close to you is one of them. The question is, what’s the answer? What’s the solution? How do we get a fresh start this year, and get our lives heading in the right direction?
And one of the answers to those questions is to do a 180 degree turn, from being inward focussed, to being outward focussed. So instead of asking … which option is best for me, we’re asking – which is the option that God wants me to choose. The Israelites found themselves in this very position, something we read about it in the last book of the Old Testament.
Malachi 3:6–9: I am the LORD, and I don’t change. You are Jacob’s children, and you have not been completely destroyed. But you never obeyed my laws. Even your ancestors stopped following me. Come back to me, and I will come back to you.” This is what the LORD All- Powerful said. “You say, ‘How can we come back?’” People should not steal things from God, but you stole things from me. “You say, ‘What did we steal from you?’” You should have given me one- tenth of your things. You should have given me special gifts. In this way your whole nation has stolen things from me, so bad things are happening to you. “This is what the LORD All- Powerful said.
In other words, they had stopped honouring God with their first fruits, with the offering that the law commanded them to make, their tithe – one tenth of their income – and the other special offerings under the law. Now you and I, we’re no longer under that law, but nevertheless God still calls us to give to Him first, of our best, our very best. Not just of our money, but of all that we have and all that we are.
Here God’s people had strayed away from putting Him first, and they were putting themselves first and things weren’t going well for them. That’s what the whole book of Malachi is all about.
Malachi 1:6: The LORD All- Powerful said, “Children honour their fathers. Servants honour their masters. I am your Father, so why don’t you honour me? I am your master, so why don’t you respect me? You priests don’t respect my name.” But you say, ‘What have we done that shows we don’t respect your name.
So, God is pouring out the truth to them, the truth that they’ve headed down that wide, easy road that leads to destruction. That’s why things aren’t going well for them. That’s why they’ve brought much pain and sorrow on themselves. I wonder how much you relate to their story in your own life right now.
So, what was God’s answer? How did He provide a way back for them?
Malachi 3:10–12: The LORD All- Powerful says, “Try this test. Bring one- tenth of your things to me. Put them in the treasury. Bring food to my house. Test me! If you do these things, I will surely bless you. Good things will come to you like rain falling from the sky. You will have more than enough of everything. I will not let pests destroy your crops. All your grapevines will produce grapes.” This is what the LORD All- Powerful said. “People from other nations will be good to you. You will have a wonderful country.” This is what the LORD All- Powerful said.
So, He gave them a way back into is blessing, by giving them a tangible way in which to put Him first in their lives, by going back to tithing their incomes which is what was required under the Old Testament law, a law that you and I are no longer under.
So let’s get back to your life? Are you looking for a fresh start in this new year? Are you looking to get rid of some of the pain and sorrow that you’ve brought upon yourself by wandering down the wide road of “what’s in it for me?” Then decide to put God first in your life.
Maybe you’ve made some lifestyle choices that you know don’t honour God. Perhaps you’re not married and you’re sleeping with someone. Perhaps you’ve so buried yourself in your career and earning money and all that stuff, there’s no room left for God. Perhaps you’re so busy juggling work and family and running the kids here and there for this and that, you’ve simply stopped praying and reading God’s Word.
Perhaps you’ve taken some big decisions in life, even small decisions, without involving God and asking Him which one He wants for you. There are so many different ways to honour God, by making a new offering of your life to Him. Give it over to Him. Give it back to Him. Do it with all your heart.
2 Corinthians 9:7,8: Each one of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You should not give if it makes you unhappy or if you feel forced to give. God loves those who are happy to give. And God can give you more blessings than you need, and you will always have plenty of everything. You will have enough to give to every good work.