The First Part

I encourage you to listen first to:

“We promise to bring the first part of every harvest to the Lord ’s Temple year after year—whether it be a crop from the soil or from our fruit trees. We agree to give God our oldest sons and the firstborn of all our herds and flocks, as prescribed in the Law. We will present them to the priests who minister in the Temple of our God. We will store the produce in the storerooms of the Temple of our God. We will bring the best of our flour and other grain offerings, the best of our fruit, and the best of our new wine and olive oil. And we promise to bring to the Levites a tenth of everything our land produces, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our rural towns. “A priest—a descendant of Aaron—will be with the Levites as they receive these tithes. And a tenth of all that is collected as tithes will be delivered by the Levites to the Temple of our God and placed in the storerooms. The people and the Levites must bring these offerings of grain, new wine, and olive oil to the storerooms and place them in the sacred containers near the ministering priests, the gatekeepers, and the singers. “We promise together not to neglect the Temple of our God.”
Nehemiah 10:35‭-‬39 NLT

After we read our family morning devotional together this morning, we talked about what giving our “first” to God represents. God doesn’t need the blood of herds and flocks from us. God doesn’t need burnt grain and fruit and wine and olive oil from us.

All of this is a “remembrance” of God giving His first to us — of His first and only begotten son, Jesus Christ, being sacrificed for our sins mercifully and graciously to restore us into right relationship with God. A proper tithe is not an obligation, but it is a joyful remembrance of the Heavenly Father and His love for us even while we were still sinners and were His enemies, and it is a joyful remembrance of Jesus Christ the Son of God who lived, suffered, died, and rose again for us, and it is a joyful demonstration of the Holy Spirit who lives in the heart of those who truly believe, repent, and follow as students of The Word and children of God.

In fact, we discussed that this morning devotional time that we set apart at the start of our day isn’t some religious obligation — but it is a remembrance of what God the Father has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and how we receive this gift by the Holy Spirit. So it is a type of tithe of our day, or remembering God’s fully willing, fully loving, fully sacrificial demonstration of His love towards us — not out of obligation or duty, but purely an outward reflection and demonstration of His grace towards us — we have the same opportunity. With each day in our morning devotional, with each week in our Lord’s day corporate gatherings, with each tithe on what we receive given to support the “Temple of God” — we have an opportunity to “do this in remembrance of me”.

Doing these things in remembrance is not just some religious ceremony that we step through to meet some obligation.

The Lord tells us how He feels about such religious, obligatory, hypocritical, self-righteous “religious” offerings:

“I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.
Amos 5:21‭-‬24 NLT

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have festivals or assemblies! This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make offerings to the Lord! It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t praise! It means that we should do these things rightly!

We are to give generously in remembrance of how much God has given us:

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
2 Corinthians 9:6‭-‬15 NLT

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