The Principal of First | The Blessed Life: Week 3

When God is first in our lives, everything comes into order. Is this statement controversial for some? Yes! Is this statement true for all? You’ll have to watch to find out.

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    Well, welcome to church.
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    We're so glad to have you joining us on Crossroads Anywhere.
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    My name's Lena Schuler.
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    I'm the Crossroads Anywhere Community Pastor.
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    And right now, we're in a series called The Blessed Life.
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    And I'm excited to get to go through that with you today.
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    But I want you to be prepared for something that's coming in a few minutes.
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    We're actually going to take communion together today.
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    And so if you are a follower of Jesus, you're in a relationship with Him,
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    that part of our service is for you.
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    And so maybe you've got a bagel and coffee like I have here with me right now
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    or a muffin and juice or some kind of food and drink at home or wherever you might be.
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    You'll want to get that ready for when we take communion in a few minutes.
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    And before we do that, we're going to spend some time worshipping together.
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    So I would encourage you as weird as it might feel,
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    let these words sink in and actually sing with us.
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    God, I thank you.
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    I thank you, God, that you call us your sons and daughters.
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    And by that definition, we are free.
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    We are free. We are not slaves, we are bound.
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    So, God, I just pray over every person in this room and every person watching,
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    God, that we would remember that we would know that,
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    and whatever you have for us in this message, God, that we would feel pierced by your love,
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    that we would feel more known by you, sought after, fought for by you,
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    worthy because you say we are.
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    We love you. We thank you.
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    In your name we pray, Amen.
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    Thank you so much for singing with us.
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    You sound great in here.
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    I believe you sound great out there, too.
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    It's always fun to worship together.
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    Why don't you make this place a little smaller.
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    If you're at home, say hi to somebody next to you.
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    Greet someone. We're happy that you are here.
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    - Well, you know, one of the reasons that I love worship is because
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    those songs give us words to remember what God's done for us.
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    And that song No Longer Slaves, we just sang.
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    It says, You split the sea so I could walk right through it.
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    You drown my fears in perfect love.
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    You rescued me so I could stand and sing that I am a child of God.
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    And there's something powerful in remembering how God's rescued us,
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    something powerful in remembering the things that he's done for his kids
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    and for his people for years and years and years,
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    like splitting the sea for his people to walk right through it, literally.
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    And so we're going to do another thing right now
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    that is a way for us to remember what God's done,
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    what he's done for us and what he's done for the people that came before us
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    and are going to come after us, and that's communion.
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    And Jesus was together with his friends and his last meal with his friends.
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    And he said, I want you to remember who I am
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    and I want you to remember who I am on a regular basis ongoing.
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    And you can do that anytime you eat or you drink together.
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    Remember me.
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    And so we're going to do that right now, we're going to remember Jesus.
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    And so if you have been rescued by Jesus, you are a child of God,
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    you've received that identity, I invite you to take communion right now with us.
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    So grab whatever food you might have, whatever drink you might have.
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    And I want you to start with the drink.
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    I want to tell you that as you take a sip of this coffee or this juice
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    or whatever you might have in front of you, the wine,
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    this is a symbol of Christ's blood that was shed for you.
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    Drink it and remember him.
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    And then I want to pick up -- I want you to pick up the food that you have.
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    I have a bagel right here with me, so I'm going to eat this bagel.
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    As you eat the food in front of you,
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    this bread, the cracker that you have, the pizza that you're eating.
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    I want you to eat that and remember that this is Christ's body broken for you.
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    He died so that you might have life.
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    He's rescued you.
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    It's an honor that we get to remember Jesus
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    in the way that his friends remembered him 2000 years ago.
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    And maybe you just took your first communion, if that's true, man,
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    I am excited that we got to celebrate that together.
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    That's worth celebrating.
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    And there are other moments that are worth celebrating together.
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    Another one that's coming up next week is baptism.
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    Baptism is the way for us to publicly declare that we've been rescued by Jesus.
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    For us to publicly declare that we have a relationship with him
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    and that we want a life with him forever.
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    And so if you have not publicly declared that,
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    but you believe that in your heart,
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    maybe you just took communion
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    or you've been taking communion for years and years
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    because you believe that to be true about Jesus
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    and you're altering your life around that.
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    And if you've not been baptized, now is the time to do it.
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    In the Bible over and over again there are examples of people
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    who have the opportunity, get baptized and they go,
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    "Well, why not now? There's an opportunity right now."
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    And the leaders, the followers of Jesus who are there
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    and who have been baptized go, "Exactly.
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    Why not now?
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    Now is the time."
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    I would say that to you, too, if you're at home and you're going to have the baptized.
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    Why? Why wouldn't I do it now?
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    Exactly. Now is the time.
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    So chat with us on the Crossroads Web site.
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    Click on that chat box and we would love to help you get signed up
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    and get started to be baptized anywhere you might be.
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    You know, one of the other ways that we tell God that we trust him
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    and we declare our faith in him is through our finances.
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    So if you want to be a giver, you can head to Crossroads.net/give.
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    And, you know, I am so excited for what else God has in store in
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    the midst of this Blessed Life series.
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    - Hey, I'm Brian, welcome to week three of The Blessed Life.
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    Man, we've been getting a lot out of this series.
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    We're not in a campaign.
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    There's no campaign we see coming in the future.
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    We're never filling out cards and dropping them in a plate
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    or bring them forward.
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    We're simply trying to look at what does it mean to be blessed
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    and how does generosity play a role in that.
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    We started the tithe test last week and, man,
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    a lot of people decided take us up on this test
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    of looking at 90 days to see if we tithe, does God bless us?
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    Do we sense God's presence?
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    And if not, if not after 90 days, if you want it back,
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    that money will come back to you.
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    Yeah. Good stuff.
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    Chuck is going be talking today.
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    And before we have Chuck talk,
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    I want to make sure you hear from a guy
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    who has really instigated the entire series
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    it comes out of a book he wrote called The Blessed Life
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    that has impacted me greatly.
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    And I decided to fly down to Dallas, Texas, to interact with him.
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    He's going to be on my podcast called Aggressive Life.
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    You can check that out if you want to in its entirety.
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    But we also had the cameras rolling for a little snippet
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    to hear what he has to say about being blessed.
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    Understand this guy.
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    Do not put him in the box of big church pastor, big megachurch pastor.
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    This guy is a special insights from God and what it means to be blessed in giving.
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    And he was doing it long before he was a mega pastor.
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    This guy's given away cars.
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    He's given away his home a number of times.
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    He's given away everything he's owned.
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    And he still has a lot because God is doing a good thing in him and through him.
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    So I thought we'd check him out.
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    And please meet my new friend, Robert Morris.
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    - What does it mean to be blessed?
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    What do you mean when you say, "Blessed.
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    I've been blessed. Blessed life"?
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    What is that?
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    - Well, I think it refers to every area of your life.
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    So it's definitely it's not just your finances,
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    even though we do talk about finances.
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    And Brian, it's really important to talk about finances
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    because Jesus said that where your treasure is,
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    where your finances are, there your heart will be.
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    Now, I many people misquote that, they turn it around.
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    They'll say, like, where your heart is, they're your finances will go.
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    Like, if your heart is in hunting, then your finances will go there.
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    But what happens is it's actually wherever your finances go,
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    your heart follows.
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    So if you want your heart in people, like in helping people, helping needs.
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    You see the pot you pour in other countries
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    and you want your heart to go there, you actually put your finances there.
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    And what it means is that when God blesses us,
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    it means he gives us enough to also bless others.
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    To be a blessing.
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    It's not about us making more money.
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    It's about us being a blessing to those around us.
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    - I want to talk about tithing.
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    And then another word that you're the first one to clue me in on.
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    I've heard and talked tithing, I've been taught that is giving 10 percent.
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    The first 10 percent of every pay that you get goes to your local church.
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    I've been doing that since someone who was building
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    into me spiritually told me about that in college.
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    I've done that every church I've gone to,
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    including the church I'm part of right now.
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    The tithe, though.
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    Let's--
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    Is it really that big of a deal? I mean, come on.
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    You know, 10 percent off the top.
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    Well, that just seems so, so legalistic, so ungenerous.
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    So, like, I don't -- that doesn't make the most people feel good
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    of having a 10 percent tax go to the local church.
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    How can you, the generous, do what makes you feel blessed,
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    be up for a 10 percent tax?
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    - Yeah. Yeah. Well, first of all, I want to say
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    I've actually felt the very same way.
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    When I started looking at it because I was raised with my dad tithing.
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    I get saved and I decide to look and see what does the Bible really say about it.
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    And what I realized was this is a principle that's actually for my good.
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    This isn't a tax to pay for the light bill in heaven.
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    I mean, God doesn't need -- He doesn't have a light bill in heaven.
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    You know, because the Bible says Jesus is the light of heaven.
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    So it's not it's not even to support the church.
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    This is something for me.
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    It's actually for my benefit.
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    That that's what blew me away about the tithe.
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    It's actually for me to put God first in every area of my life
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    because my treasure is where my heart is.
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    So it's actually me putting God first in my heart.
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    And it's all through the Bible.
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    1500 years before the law we've got Cain and Abel.
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    Most people know about Cain and Abel.
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    And Cain killed Abel.
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    Abel gave the first born of his flock.
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    He's a rancher.
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    Cain who's a farmer.
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    It says he gave an offering to God in the process of time, just over time.
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    He didn't give first fruits.
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    And it says that God accepted Abel's, but he did accept Cain's.
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    And I remember in seminary, a professor, a student asked a professor,
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    "Why did God accept Abel's offering and didn't accept Cain's?"
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    And the professor was very honest, said,
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    "You know, I really don't know why God did."
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    Well, it's simple when you start reading through there,
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    I'm not putting the professor down.
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    It's just that God always accepts the first.
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    God is first. He's first of all.
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    When the children of Israel were going in the promised land,
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    He said, "Give me all the silver and gold from Jericho."
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    Why would He say all rather in 10 percent?
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    It's because Jericho was the first city.
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    When he said when your animal has -- your sheep as a lamb,
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    give me the first. Why?
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    And here's why I think.
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    Because it takes faith to give the first one.
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    It doesn't take faith to give the tenth one.
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    So that's why tithing is the first 10 percent,
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    because it doesn't take any faith at all to pay all your bills
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    and then give what's left over to God.
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    It takes a lot of faith to give the first 10 percent.
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    So what's actually happening with tithing
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    is not that God needs it or even that the church needs it for support
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    because God all through the Bible, he can send ravens to support his people.
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    He can send bread from heaven.
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    He can call up a fish with a coin in its mouth.
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    He has no problem providing.
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    He actually wants to do something in my life.
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    And that is that from the very -- every time I get paid,
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    I'm going to say thank you to God by giving him the first.
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    I'm going to say your first in my life.
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    - And that is an aggressive move.
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    Whatever you do first, that's the aggressive thing.
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    So that's what I love about the tithe and what you just said
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    is that my wife knows if I'm not in love with her,
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    it's because I'm aggressively spending money on my truck.
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    I'm aggressively searching the Web for some other hobby I have.
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    Aggressively doing it above and beyond her.
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    It's the aggression when I tell her this night we're going to do X, Y, Z
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    or this, we're gonna spend on what you want.
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    And I think that a lot of us are appropriately challenged to ask ourselves,
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    "Am I sending God cues that I am aggressively about his business?"
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    And that would mean it would be first off the top.
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    - Yeah. Yeah. And that's when you were asking me about the little things,
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    and I was saying this is what I would do.
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    I was kind of including everybody.
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    If we're gonna talk about believers, those who'd really believe in God,
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    believe that Jesus is the Lord and that we give our lives to him,
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    then we base our lives based on the Bible.
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    And if we're gonna base our lives based on the Bible,
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    I'm just -- I want to say to everyone that
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    the tithe was hundreds of years before the law.
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    Hundreds of years after the law.
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    I had some guy that doesn't like me that said, you know--.
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    - You have people that don't like you either?
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    - Just one or two.
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    - How could someone not like you?
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    Look at you, you're everyone's grandfather.
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    You never swear or anything.
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    - I know. No, well, there's a few times in traffic, but OK, let's leave that.
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    Let's let's talk about -- okay.
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    Don't put me on the spot.
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    OK. So but anyway, so this one guy said, you know,
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    the word tithe doesn't even appear in the New Testament.
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    I'm thinking, what bible have you read?
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    You know.
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    So Jesus talks about it.
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    Jesus even said you ought to do it.
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    You ought to.
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    Matthew 23:23. So the point is, if we're talking about now,
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    if we are talking to believers and we say,
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    well, what are the things?
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    And I said, oh, you know, get your finances in order.
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    You know, obey the small promptings obey the large promptings.
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    But I would say the thing I've seen people the most,
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    changed their life the most is when they decide,
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    "I am going to give the first 10 percent to God."
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    I've had more people write me and tell me that changed everything.
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    I have all sorts of testimonies of people getting new jobs,
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    promotions, raises.
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    And it's not a give and you'll get.
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    That is not it. It's that we get to give.
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    We don't give to get.
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    We get to give.
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    But when God's first, it's amazing how God then wants
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    to give us more resources because he knows he can trust us
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    with what he's giving us.
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    - Very few things turn me on and make me feel really warm inside
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    more than when a friend of mine or a family memberI.
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    Find out has started to tithe,
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    to give God the first 10 percent.
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    Because when that happens --.
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    - That's right.
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    - I know God has him.
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    Before that, all I know is they have some beliefs
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    that line up with some things
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    and may they may have been baptized.
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    They may have said some prayers.
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    But when someone does that, I know and God knows,
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    "I got you.
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    I got you. And you got me."
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    There's just a whole new level to that.
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    - It's a completely different level when we say,
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    "God, I'm gonna put you first in my finances."
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    It's one thing to stand in church and say,
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    "I'm going to put you first in my life."
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    But when it comes to the wallet,
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    it is like there's a fishing line from the wallet to the heart
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    because you can see it.
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    When people reach for it, it's like I go, oh,
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    it's like they get chest pain all of the sudden, you know?
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    So you're right, something happens when we start to tithe
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    that can't happen any other way
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    because we're acknowledging God as our provider
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    and we're putting him first in our lives.
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    - Well, let me first start with something personal,
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    and I'm going to touch on this a bit at the end of our time too.
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    Many of you known, if you don't know, wanted to let you know
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    that my father, after 91 years of a long and full life,
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    passed away last Friday.
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    And so it's been an a roller coaster of emotions for me and my family.
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    But it's also been an incredible outpouring
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    of love and support from my Crossroads family.
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    And so I just want to say on behalf not just my family
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    here in in Cincinnati, but in Philadelphia and all over,
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    we are so thankful for all of that.
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    And as I was thinking about my dad and what we're talking about today,
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    I realized his life is an example of the key thing that I hope you hear today,
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    which is simply this: when God is first in your life,
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    everything else comes into order.
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    And when God is not first in your life,
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    everything else is out of order.
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    Now when I say that, I'm not saying when God's first in your life
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    you're gonna have a problem-free life.
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    I'm not saying that because Jesus didn't say that.
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    Jesus himself said in this life you will have trouble.
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    But the question that we need to wrestle with is,
  • 00:26:24
    would you rather go through trouble with things in order between you and God
  • 00:26:28
    or with things out of order between you and God?
  • 00:26:32
    And the principle that we're gonna talk about today
  • 00:26:34
    is a principle of order.
  • 00:26:36
    It's called the principle of the first.
  • 00:26:39
    And it shows up all throughout the Bible.
  • 00:26:41
    And so we're gonna just walk through this.
  • 00:26:43
    Got a lot of things to cove, a lot of scriptures.
  • 00:26:45
    I know this, the controversial thing, sometimes it's difficult to talk about this.
  • 00:26:48
    And so what I want to do today is just illuminate
  • 00:26:50
    scripture after scripture, after scripture,
  • 00:26:52
    where we see this played out so that you can see this is what God says.
  • 00:26:56
    And then you can wrestle with what does it mean for your life.
  • 00:26:59
    But the first point that I would make under this idea
  • 00:27:01
    of the principle of the first is this:
  • 00:27:07
    This is what we see as this principle gets unfolded
  • 00:27:10
    in the Old Testament portion of the Bible
  • 00:27:12
    in places like Exodus 13, starting in verse 1, which says:.
  • 00:27:29
    It is mine. Mine.
  • 00:27:30
    Mine. How many people have kids to do that?
  • 00:27:32
    My kids do. Mine.
  • 00:27:33
    It is mine, God is emphatic here.
  • 00:27:36
    He is emphatically saying, consecrate to me the first born.
  • 00:27:39
    What does it mean to consecrate something?
  • 00:27:41
    It means to sacrifice it.
  • 00:27:42
    That's what it meant in Exodus, sacrifice it, let it go, give it up.
  • 00:27:47
    And God is saying do that because it belongs to me.
  • 00:27:52
    The first born, what does he mean by that?
  • 00:27:54
    The Exodus 13:13 is says:.
  • 00:28:00
    Now, what does that word mean?
  • 00:28:01
    Again, we're using these like, you know, theological words.
  • 00:28:04
    What does that mean? Redeem?
  • 00:28:05
    Redeem simply means to remove the curse from something or to make something clean.
  • 00:28:11
    And the way that happened in ancient Israel
  • 00:28:13
    was through the sacrificial system that God had set up.
  • 00:28:16
    And so basically you would sacrifice something
  • 00:28:19
    that was considered clean, usually a lamb,
  • 00:28:22
    to redeem something that was considered unclean.
  • 00:28:26
    God was saying give your firstborn lamb,
  • 00:28:28
    which would've been very valuable,
  • 00:28:29
    think about that in an agrarian culture where that was your livelihood.
  • 00:28:33
    He's saying, give the firstborn lamb to me
  • 00:28:37
    and it will redeem everything else.
  • 00:28:40
    Now, if you step back from this,
  • 00:28:42
    some of you are probably ahead of me
  • 00:28:44
    and you're anticipating and making some connections here
  • 00:28:47
    that this principle of sacrificing the first and the clean
  • 00:28:51
    to redeem the unclean has some deeper spiritual implications
  • 00:28:55
    than just our money.
  • 00:28:56
    So let me ask you a question.
  • 00:28:58
    Were you and I when we are born, were we considered according to the Bible,
  • 00:29:03
    spiritually clean or unclean?
  • 00:29:07
    That's right. We're considered unclean.
  • 00:29:09
    Romans 3:23 says: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
  • 00:29:14
    All of us are born with the stain called the sin nature.
  • 00:29:19
    That impacts every last human being who has ever been born on the planet, save one.
  • 00:29:24
    If you don't believe me, you can just ask the experts in the room.
  • 00:29:27
    Many of them have white stickers on their pants
  • 00:29:30
    or on their shirts, and they're called parents.
  • 00:29:32
    Parents, did you have to teach your child to be bad?
  • 00:29:37
    Did you have to teach your child to say mine?
  • 00:29:40
    No. Right?
  • 00:29:41
    They come that way. We all come that way.
  • 00:29:45
    So we can all recognize that we are,
  • 00:29:47
    at least from a spiritual perspective, spiritually unclean at birth.
  • 00:29:52
    But let me ask you this question.
  • 00:29:54
    Jesus. Was Jesus born spiritually clean or unclean?
  • 00:30:02
    Jesus was born spiritually clean.
  • 00:30:06
    So the clean has to be sacrificed to redeem the unclean.
  • 00:30:12
    That's exactly what Jesus did for you and for me.
  • 00:30:16
    That's what we just read.
  • 00:30:17
    That's how deep this principle of the first goes in the heart and in the mind of God.
  • 00:30:21
    It's why John the Baptist, when he saw Jesus coming,
  • 00:30:24
    said this of him and John 1:29:.
  • 00:30:31
    You could say it this way: Jesus is God's tithe.
  • 00:30:37
    Jesus is God's tithe.
  • 00:30:41
    He gave him first.
  • 00:30:43
    In fact the Bible says, he gave him in faith.
  • 00:30:45
    He gave him before we received him.
  • 00:30:48
    ROMANS 5:8 puts it this way:.
  • 00:30:50
    God demonstrates his own love toward us in that while we were still sinners,
  • 00:30:55
    while we were still in rebellion, Christ died for us.
  • 00:30:59
    My Uncle Otis is a preacher
  • 00:31:01
    and I love my Uncle Otis's translation of this verse.
  • 00:31:03
    He says, while we were busy hating God, He was busy loving us.
  • 00:31:08
    God gave Jesus as his tithe and he gave him first,
  • 00:31:11
    so we have to give our first, our first fruit,
  • 00:31:14
    our tithe in much the same way,
  • 00:31:16
    before we experience the blessing of God, we give our first to God.
  • 00:31:21
    God didn't say, "Hey, Israel, have 10 lambs.
  • 00:31:25
    And then that tenth lamb, give me that one.
  • 00:31:27
    Set that one to the side."
  • 00:31:28
    No, he said, give me the first lamb to be born.
  • 00:31:32
    The principle of the first, it's about the first.
  • 00:31:35
    The first belongs to God.
  • 00:31:38
    And when you sacrifice the first, it redeems the rest.
  • 00:31:42
    Let's look at another example of this principle of the first.
  • 00:31:44
    Again, this is all throughout the Bible.
  • 00:31:45
    This example is from a little bit beyond where we just saw in Exodus.
  • 00:31:51
    It's actually at a time when after 400 years of slavery
  • 00:31:54
    and 40 years of wandering in the wilderness,
  • 00:31:56
    the nation of Israel is about to inherit the promised land,
  • 00:32:00
    this land that God had promised to give them
  • 00:32:02
    as an inheritance for them and for the generations of Israelites to follow.
  • 00:32:06
    And so they're right at the precipice.
  • 00:32:09
    They're about the cross a river.
  • 00:32:10
    And the first city that they're going to conquer is the city of Jericho.
  • 00:32:14
    Now, if you went to Sunday school or have heard about the Bible
  • 00:32:17
    and kind of grew up in that,
  • 00:32:19
    that's the city where they marched around it seven times
  • 00:32:21
    and then the seventh time they blew the beat the trumpet
  • 00:32:22
    and the walls fell down and they conquered the city.
  • 00:32:24
    Well, after they conquered the city,
  • 00:32:26
    look at what God had instructed them to do in Joshua 6:19, he says:.
  • 00:32:36
    Again, the priority, the emphatic priority is that it is first.
  • 00:32:40
    And it says:
  • 00:32:44
    And why didn't God say, "Hey, go conquer the entire land
  • 00:32:48
    and then carve out of all the wealth and all the plunder 10%
  • 00:32:51
    and give that to me"?
  • 00:32:52
    He actually asked in the case of Jericho,
  • 00:32:54
    for 100 percent of all of the plunder that they get.
  • 00:32:58
    Why? Because it was the first city.
  • 00:33:01
    So what God is saying here is give me 100 percent of the first.
  • 00:33:05
    Give me a hundred percent of everything in Jericho
  • 00:33:08
    and you can have the rest because of the principle of the first.
  • 00:33:13
    So let me just give you a heads up right here
  • 00:33:15
    just to make sure that we don't miss this.
  • 00:33:17
    That means when it comes to our finances, my finances and your finances,
  • 00:33:21
    don't give the first to the mortgage company.
  • 00:33:25
    Don't give the first to the car company where you're financing your car.
  • 00:33:29
    Don't think first about those things, because here's the thing:
  • 00:33:33
    The mortgage company and the car company cannot bless your finances,
  • 00:33:37
    but God can. God will when he is first,
  • 00:33:43
    when we operate in the principle of the first.
  • 00:33:45
    And why the first? Because it takes faith.
  • 00:33:49
    It takes faith to make the first check the check to God
  • 00:33:54
    and not to the mortgage company
  • 00:33:56
    and not to the other bills that might be staring you in the face.
  • 00:33:58
    It's the principle of the first.
  • 00:34:01
    And it really is saying to God, "God, you have priority in my life."
  • 00:34:06
    So you consecrate the first to redeem the rest.
  • 00:34:12
    Point number two is: the first fruits must be offered.
  • 00:34:20
    I want to key in on the word "must be."
  • 00:34:23
    Right? Must be offered.
  • 00:34:25
    Now, let's be honest, we all have experience
  • 00:34:29
    with some of the fruits of our labor being offered
  • 00:34:32
    without us having a choice in it.
  • 00:34:34
    We all, you know, I think about my first job.
  • 00:34:36
    My first job was at a --
  • 00:34:38
    I was a gas station attendant at a place called Hess Gas Station.
  • 00:34:41
    Does anybody remember Hess Gas Stations?
  • 00:34:43
    So it was like, it's crazy.
  • 00:34:45
    This doesn't exist anymore.
  • 00:34:46
    It was full service gas.
  • 00:34:47
    You'd roll up.
  • 00:34:48
    And, you know, I had this like jumpsuit on,
  • 00:34:50
    this white jumpsuit with green on it.
  • 00:34:52
    And, you know, I'd check your oil and I'd pump your gas
  • 00:34:57
    and I'd wash your windows.
  • 00:34:58
    It was like full service.
  • 00:34:59
    That was my first job.
  • 00:35:00
    And I remember my cousin got me connected to this job
  • 00:35:02
    and I was so excited because I was like a teenager,
  • 00:35:04
    I was gonna make some money, you know, and to get a car.
  • 00:35:07
    And I remember like calculating the hours that I had worked
  • 00:35:10
    and like anticipating that first check.
  • 00:35:12
    I was really excited about that first paycheck.
  • 00:35:14
    That first paycheck is coming.
  • 00:35:16
    And I open up the arm envelope and I look at the paycheck.
  • 00:35:22
    And somebody named FICA had taken some money from me.
  • 00:35:25
    And I don't know who FICA is.
  • 00:35:27
    Reminds me of, I don't know if you remember that Friends episode.
  • 00:35:29
    Who is FICA and why is he taking my money?
  • 00:35:31
    Right?
  • 00:35:33
    Here's the one I love. I love this one.
  • 00:35:34
    I got another meme:
  • 00:35:37
    That's how I really felt. Right?
  • 00:35:40
    So we all know and have experience with not choosing.
  • 00:35:43
    But isn't it interesting that God doesn't just, woops,
  • 00:35:46
    it doesn't just disappear automatically.
  • 00:35:48
    We have to give it to him.
  • 00:35:50
    It has to be offered.
  • 00:35:51
    Why? Because God wants us to choose obedience.
  • 00:35:55
    He wants us to choose to put him first.
  • 00:35:59
    So, again, we see this over and over in the scriptures.
  • 00:36:02
    Another place where we see this principle of the first
  • 00:36:04
    is in Proverbs 3:9-10, which say:.
  • 00:36:18
    Now, again, this is in the Book of Proverbs.
  • 00:36:20
    This is the book of Wisdom.
  • 00:36:21
    This is thousands of years past Exodus.
  • 00:36:23
    This is thousands of years past Joshua, those scriptures that we read.
  • 00:36:28
    Exodus 23:19 puts it this way:
  • 00:36:36
    God wants to make it very clear to us.
  • 00:36:38
    The first of the first fruits, as if first fruits was wasn't enough.
  • 00:36:43
    And notice the word is "bring" not give.
  • 00:36:48
    It says you must bring the first of the first fruits
  • 00:36:52
    into the house of the Lord, your God.
  • 00:36:54
    And the reason is because we can't give what isn't ours.
  • 00:37:00
    We can't give what isn't ours.
  • 00:37:02
    Which means we really only have two choices when it comes to the tithe.
  • 00:37:07
    We can either bring it or we can steal it.
  • 00:37:12
    Remember that story of Israel and God saying to them,
  • 00:37:16
    "When you conquer Jericho, I want 100% of everything to come to me first."
  • 00:37:23
    Well, there was one man, his name is Aiken, and he stole from God.
  • 00:37:27
    He did. He saved some things that should have gone to God
  • 00:37:31
    and instead he kept them to benefit himself.
  • 00:37:34
    And the next city that Israel went to conquer,
  • 00:37:37
    Israel got demolished, and they didn't know why.
  • 00:37:39
    They're like "What happened?"
  • 00:37:41
    And God said to them, it's because Israel has stolen from me
  • 00:37:45
    and they are cursed.
  • 00:37:47
    God said, because you didn't operate in the principle of the first,
  • 00:37:51
    all of what you have has been cursed.
  • 00:37:54
    And that's true when it comes to first fruits,when it comes to our tithe
  • 00:37:57
    that's consecrated and redeemed when we give it to God.
  • 00:38:02
    But it's cursed if we keep it.
  • 00:38:05
    Let me ask you a question, just a practical question.
  • 00:38:08
    Why would you want anything cursed in your bank account?
  • 00:38:12
    Doesn't that have enough problems of it's own?
  • 00:38:14
    We don't need anything cursed our bank accounts.
  • 00:38:17
    So there's something here.
  • 00:38:18
    Robert Morris puts it this way in the book The Blessed Life.
  • 00:38:20
    He says:.
  • 00:38:30
    Now, you might be getting the impression that, you know,
  • 00:38:32
    this idea of the principle of the first is really just about us.
  • 00:38:36
    It's about us putting God first, about us making sure God is the priority.
  • 00:38:40
    And yeah, there's definitely things here for us.
  • 00:38:43
    But the reason this is a principle all throughout the Bible
  • 00:38:46
    has nothing to do with us and it has everything to do with who God is.
  • 00:38:52
    And the place where we see that is actually at
  • 00:38:55
    the very, very beginning of the Bible in the Book of Genesis.
  • 00:38:58
    The story of Cain and Abel,
  • 00:38:59
    you heard Robert Morris reference it.
  • 00:39:01
    We're going to dig into that a little bit because
  • 00:39:03
    I want us to see this principle and what it teaches us about God.
  • 00:39:06
    In Genesis 4:3-5, it says:
  • 00:39:29
    The question is why?
  • 00:39:31
    Two brothers.
  • 00:39:32
    This is the first story of murder in the Bible.
  • 00:39:34
    These are the sons of Adam and Eve.
  • 00:39:36
    And eventually Cain kills Abel because of what happens in this exchange.
  • 00:39:41
    But why didn't God accept Cain's offering,
  • 00:39:44
    but he did accept Abel's offering?
  • 00:39:45
    We get the clue in the actual verse.
  • 00:39:48
    It says of Cain that Cain, in the process of time,
  • 00:39:53
    not right away, brought an offering, not the first.
  • 00:39:58
    But it says Abel brought the first.
  • 00:40:00
    And so God accepted Abel's offering and he didn't accept Cain's offering.
  • 00:40:06
    But what I want us to see here is
  • 00:40:08
    it's not just that God wouldn't accept Cain's offering.
  • 00:40:13
    It's that he couldn't accept Cain's offering.
  • 00:40:18
    He couldn't. Why?
  • 00:40:21
    Because, believe it or not,
  • 00:40:23
    there are some things that the creator of the universe cannot do,
  • 00:40:28
    that he cannot do.
  • 00:40:29
    Here's a couple of things that God cannot do.
  • 00:40:31
    God can not change.
  • 00:40:35
    The theological word for this is immutability.
  • 00:40:38
    It means that God is unchangeable.
  • 00:40:40
    Because think about it this way: if God could change,
  • 00:40:43
    that would mean he could get better.
  • 00:40:44
    And if God could get better, that would mean he's not perfect.
  • 00:40:47
    God is perfect.
  • 00:40:48
    He doesn't need to improve on anything of who he is.
  • 00:40:51
    So God does not change.
  • 00:40:54
    He can't change.
  • 00:40:56
    Here's another thing: God can't think.
  • 00:41:00
    Not like you and I think.
  • 00:41:02
    Think about it, we think to figure stuff out.
  • 00:41:04
    Right?
  • 00:41:05
    We have gaps in our understanding.
  • 00:41:07
    So whether we learn from a book
  • 00:41:08
    or if we're learning through relationships or through experience,
  • 00:41:11
    we're trying to fill in gaps of things we don't know.
  • 00:41:13
    God doesn't have any gaps that he needs to fill in his understanding,
  • 00:41:17
    so God doesn't think the way that we think.
  • 00:41:19
    Nothing has ever occurred to God.
  • 00:41:21
    [laughter]
  • 00:41:25
    Something that you have never heard, we'll never hear God say,
  • 00:41:29
    ever, ever, ever is this God is never in heaven
  • 00:41:31
    and has a moment where he says,
  • 00:41:33
    "You know what I just thought of?" [laughter]
  • 00:41:37
    I'll put it to you this way.
  • 00:41:38
    God never comes across something in anywhere in creation
  • 00:41:42
    and says to himself, "Oh, my self."
  • 00:41:45
    [laughter]
  • 00:41:48
    Right? Because he wouldn't say, Oh my God, because he is God.
  • 00:41:50
    Right? That never happens, it never happens.
  • 00:41:52
    That's why Isaiah 55:8 God puts it this way, he says,\:.
  • 00:42:01
    God doesn't think, at least in the way
  • 00:42:03
    that you and I think to figure stuff out.
  • 00:42:04
    And here's the third thing: God can not be second.
  • 00:42:10
    He can't be second.
  • 00:42:12
    The theological word for this is pre-eminent.
  • 00:42:16
    The Bible says God is above all things,
  • 00:42:18
    he's before all things, he's beyond all things.
  • 00:42:20
    He can never be second.
  • 00:42:24
    And that's why he couldn't accept Cain's offering.
  • 00:42:28
    I mean, I use this term, we all use this term.
  • 00:42:30
    Hey, I'm trying to put God first.
  • 00:42:31
    Right, I'm trying to put God first in this part of my life.
  • 00:42:32
    I'm trying to put God first as I think about this thing.
  • 00:42:34
    We all say that, but that's really --
  • 00:42:36
    those are words that help us understand what we're doing.
  • 00:42:39
    The truth is whether you are putting God first in your life or not,
  • 00:42:44
    he's still first.
  • 00:42:46
    If he's not first in your life,
  • 00:42:49
    that doesn't mean you changed his order in the universe.
  • 00:42:53
    It means your life is out of order.
  • 00:42:57
    Because God is always first.
  • 00:43:00
    The question is, are we aligning to that reality in our life?
  • 00:43:05
    So he couldn't accept Cain's offering because Cain's offering
  • 00:43:07
    was putting God in a place other than first.
  • 00:43:10
    We need to think about that when it comes to the tithe.
  • 00:43:13
    Think about it. If Jesus is God's tithe and he gave him first,
  • 00:43:18
    maybe this idea of putting our tithe first
  • 00:43:21
    means more to God the father than we think, because
  • 00:43:25
    tithing really does show you who's first in your life.
  • 00:43:28
    I mean, I can tell you all day, I can sit up here
  • 00:43:30
    and say all kinds of spiritual things about
  • 00:43:31
    God's first in my life. I'm a pastor and I love Jesus and all that stuff.
  • 00:43:34
    But, man, if you look at my bank account,
  • 00:43:36
    wouldn't it tell you really quickly?
  • 00:43:39
    If you looked at my generosity,
  • 00:43:40
    wouldn't it tell you pretty quickly if I'm just a bunch of talk?
  • 00:43:44
    Or if I've actually oriented my life in a way that puts God first?
  • 00:43:49
    So just to recap, number one, you sacrifice the first to redeem the rest.
  • 00:43:54
    God did that with Jesus.
  • 00:43:56
    And that's what happens when we put God first in our finances.
  • 00:43:58
    And second, the first fruits must be offered.
  • 00:44:01
    There has to be a choice of obedience we make to offer our first to God.
  • 00:44:06
    And the third point is this: the tithe must be first.
  • 00:44:12
    So as we've been unpacking this series, we've said the tithe again is
  • 00:44:15
    the first 10% of your gross income given to your local church.
  • 00:44:20
    That's the definition of the tithe.
  • 00:44:22
    Why your gross income?
  • 00:44:24
    Because if it's your net income, that means you're putting FICA first.
  • 00:44:28
    You're putting the government first.
  • 00:44:30
    That's why it's based on the gross.
  • 00:44:33
    And those of us who tithe, I mean, I can tell you, I've been --
  • 00:44:35
    I'm so thankful my parents taught me this.
  • 00:44:38
    And I can just tell you, I've seen the blessing of God
  • 00:44:40
    as I have been faithful in this area of my life.
  • 00:44:42
    It doesn't mean I'm a millionaire.
  • 00:44:44
    It doesn't mean I'm ever gonna be a millionaire.
  • 00:44:45
    But I can tell you, I have seen incredible provision
  • 00:44:47
    and blessing in my life in a bunch of different areas,
  • 00:44:49
    not just money as I have done this.
  • 00:44:51
    And some of us are walking this out right now.
  • 00:44:53
    Like Brian said, many of you have stepped into the tithe test
  • 00:44:57
    and you're saying, "Hey, for the next 90 days,
  • 00:44:58
    I am going to put God to the test.".
  • 00:45:00
    God says to test him.
  • 00:45:01
    And some of you have signed up to do that for 90 days.
  • 00:45:03
    You're going to tithe.
  • 00:45:05
    You're going to make God first in that way in your finances.
  • 00:45:08
    If for any reason you don't see and experience God's blessing in your life,
  • 00:45:12
    that money's going to be returned to you at the end of 90 days.
  • 00:45:15
    But I believe God's going to come through on his test.
  • 00:45:20
    And I just want to say, if this is new to you,
  • 00:45:23
    like some of you are like,
  • 00:45:25
    "Man, why did I pick this weekend to come to Crossroads?
  • 00:45:27
    My buddy's been inviting me, but why this weekend?
  • 00:45:29
    Like what's this about?"
  • 00:45:31
    Let me just tell you, I understand.
  • 00:45:32
    This is challenging, it's not like I came out the womb tithing.
  • 00:45:35
    I didn't. This is a journey that I've been on.
  • 00:45:38
    And in fact, I was reminded of how this journey is one
  • 00:45:42
    where we have to grow into it this week,
  • 00:45:44
    when I had a unique opportunity to teach my Mingo children
  • 00:45:49
    about the principle of tithing.
  • 00:45:52
    - How was Halloween? Did you have fun?
  • 00:45:55
    - You got a lot of candy?
  • 00:45:56
    - All right. So, hey, there's a spiritual principle called tithing.
  • 00:46:00
    And what it means is, yes, Isabelle?
  • 00:46:05
    - I'd like to pray today.
  • 00:46:07
    - You'd like to pray? All right. We're going to pray after we do this.
  • 00:46:08
    OK?
  • 00:46:10
    - But here's the tithing looks like.
  • 00:46:12
    We take, lets say we've got ten pieces of candy.
  • 00:46:14
    That means we have one of those pieces to God.
  • 00:46:18
    But since God doesn't eat candy, you're gonna give them to me.
  • 00:46:21
    - You're not God.
  • 00:46:22
    - No, I'm not God. So lay out your candy and you're going to give me --
  • 00:46:28
    What? You don't want to give me your candy?
  • 00:46:32
    - Do I have to lay it all out?
  • 00:46:33
    - You've got to lay it all out.
  • 00:46:34
    -This is not worth it.
  • 00:46:37
    - Are you going to give me your candy too?
  • 00:46:46
    - I am.
  • 00:46:48
    - No, Nathan's going to give me more than one.
  • 00:46:49
    Look at all these candies he has. So if we count these, I tell you what.
  • 00:46:53
    Let's say, let's just assume, Nathan, you've got, what's that look like?
  • 00:46:57
    30 pieces of candy, 50?
  • 00:46:59
    30?
  • 00:47:00
    All right, so you've got to give me three pieces of candy.
  • 00:47:01
    That's the tithe.
  • 00:47:03
    Okay.
  • 00:47:05
    -You'll let me choose? That's cool.
  • 00:47:06
    - I gave you two pieces.
  • 00:47:08
    - You gave me two pieces? Which ones did you give me?
  • 00:47:13
    - This one and this one.q
  • 00:47:15
    - You gave me a Reece's?
  • 00:47:19
    All right, Nathan, you're letting me choose the three piece I want?
  • 00:47:21
    - Three pieces.
  • 00:47:22
    - OK. So, you know I like Snickers.
  • 00:47:24
    So I'm gonna take Snickers.
  • 00:47:25
    - Go.
  • 00:47:27
    - I'll take the full sized Hershey's with the almonds.
  • 00:47:32
    - That wasn't smart.
  • 00:47:34
    - What wasn't smart?
  • 00:47:35
    - For you to do that?
  • 00:47:36
    - Because like --
  • 00:47:37
    - You want this one?
  • 00:47:40
    - No, no, it's fine.
  • 00:47:42
    - You want this one? I'm not going to.
  • 00:47:43
    - No, I'm not taking it.
  • 00:47:45
    I'll take a Reece's from you.
  • 00:47:47
    I really like Reece's.
  • 00:47:49
    I'll take -- you're giving me your full size Twix?
  • 00:47:52
    - That's my Twix.
  • 00:47:53
    - You would, really?
  • 00:47:56
    Okay.
  • 00:47:57
    - This is my Twix.
  • 00:47:58
    - You're saying I should take this Twix?
  • 00:48:01
    - Would you give me your Twix?
  • 00:48:03
    No, you're not going to give me yours, but I should take your brother's?
  • 00:48:05
    Okay. All right. Okay.
  • 00:48:09
    - Milk Duds.
  • 00:48:11
    Isabelle, did you give me your tithe, your candy tithe?
  • 00:48:17
    - What did you give me?
  • 00:48:21
    Would you let me choose or are you going to pick for me?
  • 00:48:26
    - She gave you the Reece's.
  • 00:48:30
    - Do you like these?
  • 00:48:31
    - No.
  • 00:48:32
    - So you're giving me what you don't like?
  • 00:48:37
    - Yeah. I don't want that. I don't like it, I don't even try.
  • 00:48:47
    [laughter] So we're on a journey in my house around tithing.
  • 00:48:50
    It's good for all of us to see.
  • 00:48:52
    Did you notice how easy it was for my kids to give each other's candy to me?
  • 00:48:56
    Like they didn't have a problem with that,
  • 00:48:57
    but theirs it was like, oh, hold on.
  • 00:49:00
    It was really interesting to have that experience with them.
  • 00:49:02
    This is a journey for us.
  • 00:49:04
    You know, it's a journey of the heart.
  • 00:49:05
    God is about our hearts in this.
  • 00:49:07
    Leviticus 27:30 says:.
  • 00:49:18
    And I want to emphasize that word holy.
  • 00:49:21
    This is not about what God needs to do to fund his enterprise.
  • 00:49:26
    He doesn't need our money to fund his enterprise.
  • 00:49:30
    That's not what makes this conversation holy.
  • 00:49:32
    What makes it holy is whether we're willing to put him first in our finances
  • 00:49:37
    says so much about whether we're willing to put him first in our lives.
  • 00:49:40
    And that's a holy thing.
  • 00:49:42
    That's what God is up to in our lives.
  • 00:49:46
    So gonna give you a math illustration,
  • 00:49:49
    which is dangerous for me because I'm nobody's mathlete.
  • 00:49:51
    That is not my skill set.
  • 00:49:53
    But I want to -- just just go with me on this.
  • 00:49:55
    Let's imagine that you are, let's say you're a landscaper.
  • 00:49:57
    And I have paid you to do a job for me.
  • 00:50:00
    And after, you know, materials cost you X
  • 00:50:03
    and then your time and labor whatever ever cost you Y,
  • 00:50:06
    and then your profit is a thousand dollars, a thousand dollars.
  • 00:50:10
    So I'm paying you a thousand dollars because that's what you tithe on,
  • 00:50:15
    you tithe on your increase, you tithe on your income.
  • 00:50:19
    And so if I'm paying you a thousand dollars,
  • 00:50:22
    the question I have for you is this: how much is the tithe?
  • 00:50:27
    Hundred dollars, right?
  • 00:50:30
    Here's my second question: Which one of these is the tithe?
  • 00:50:36
    That's right. I put it to you this way: The first one to leave your hand.
  • 00:50:41
    The first one to leave your hand is the tithe,
  • 00:50:46
    and that's what God wants us to do.
  • 00:50:48
    Now, how does this play out practically for me in my life?
  • 00:50:51
    How many people have heard the budgeting principle: Pay yourself..?
  • 00:50:55
    Right, pay yourself first.
  • 00:50:57
    What I learned from my parents was, no, give to God first.
  • 00:51:02
    And so I get paid on the 15th in the last day of every month.
  • 00:51:05
    And there is an E gift. It's an automatic thing that comes out first.
  • 00:51:10
    Because for me, this is a heart thing and I want God to know
  • 00:51:14
    you are first in my life, not only in my finances,
  • 00:51:17
    but yes, actually in my finances as well.
  • 00:51:20
    I want to put him first.
  • 00:51:22
    In fact, if you look at any budget I've ever made,
  • 00:51:24
    you'll always see I structure it the same way.
  • 00:51:27
    After all of the income that I put up top,
  • 00:51:30
    my first item of what comes out is the tithe.
  • 00:51:34
    And generosity, it's the top of the list because I want God to say --
  • 00:51:38
    I want to say to God, God, you are first in my finances.
  • 00:51:43
    So we started with Exodus 13 and God establishing this principle of first born.
  • 00:51:48
    And we're gonna finish with that same chapter, Exodus 13:14-15 says this:.
  • 00:52:20
    God wanted this to be a teaching tool that Israel could use
  • 00:52:24
    with their children to help them understand the principle of first.
  • 00:52:28
    Think about it in modern terms, imagine a son goes to college,
  • 00:52:31
    he comes back from college, he's working in the family business.
  • 00:52:34
    And he's going through the books
  • 00:52:35
    and he begins to see a monthly pattern that troubles him.
  • 00:52:38
    And it is that every month the father is giving away $50,000 of the family profits.
  • 00:52:46
    You would imagine that at some point if the boy didn't understand
  • 00:52:48
    this principle the first he would go to the father and say,
  • 00:52:50
    "Dad, what's going on with this?
  • 00:52:52
    Why are you giving away $50,000 a month of our profits?"
  • 00:52:57
    And that's the opportunity for the father to say to the son,
  • 00:53:00
    "Son, the reason I do that is because you need to know
  • 00:53:02
    something about our family. We didn't always have a business.
  • 00:53:06
    We didn't always have the assets that we have.
  • 00:53:09
    In fact, son, we didn't have anything.
  • 00:53:11
    We were slaves.
  • 00:53:13
    But God, with a mighty hand, saved us, rescued us.
  • 00:53:20
    And he's given us everything that we have.
  • 00:53:22
    And that's why I gladly give him the first of every month of our profits."
  • 00:53:31
    I told you that last Friday my dad passed away.
  • 00:53:35
    And I was thinking about how his life really did model out this principle.
  • 00:53:41
    This principle of "but God."
  • 00:53:44
    See, my dad had a B.C.
  • 00:53:47
    life, he had a life before Christ.
  • 00:53:50
    This is one of the pictures that we put in his memorial.
  • 00:53:53
    This young strapping man with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth
  • 00:53:56
    in Europe during the Korean War.
  • 00:53:59
    And man, my dad told me some stories about what happened in Europe
  • 00:54:02
    that I dare not repeat on this stage because he had a B.C.
  • 00:54:06
    life.
  • 00:54:07
    My dad had a life where he wasn't always a follower of Jesus.
  • 00:54:10
    In fact, I remember when I was a kid, I was about 3 or 4 years old
  • 00:54:13
    and my dad would have these like the Big Gulp plastic cups
  • 00:54:18
    from 7-Eleven or wherever he got them from filled with alcohol.
  • 00:54:21
    My dad was a drinker when I was born.
  • 00:54:23
    He was not a follower of Jesus.
  • 00:54:26
    And I remember seeing Jesus save my father.
  • 00:54:31
    I mean, saving him.
  • 00:54:32
    I'm not using that as a religious term.
  • 00:54:33
    I'm telling you, my dad was saved from his past.
  • 00:54:36
    He was saved from drinking.
  • 00:54:38
    And from the time that that happened till the 91st year of his life
  • 00:54:42
    when he passed away, I never saw my father pick up a drink again.
  • 00:54:46
    [applause] He was saved. He was saved.
  • 00:54:50
    And so last Friday night, not last Friday, a week ago, before Friday,
  • 00:54:55
    my dad had dementia in his later years.
  • 00:54:57
    And I had moved him to Cincinnati.
  • 00:54:58
    And he was here with me and my family.
  • 00:55:00
    And we loved just the time that we got to spend with him
  • 00:55:03
    those last couple years.
  • 00:55:04
    He loved being a part of Crossroads.
  • 00:55:05
    He was here as much as he could be here.
  • 00:55:08
    And I know because he had dementia,
  • 00:55:10
    that he had forgotten a lot of those things.
  • 00:55:11
    And I remember being in the hospital bed with my dad
  • 00:55:14
    and saying, "Dad, I want to tell you your salvation story."
  • 00:55:19
    And I told my dad, I said, "Dad, you used to be a drinker.
  • 00:55:23
    And I remember that. I remember your B.C.
  • 00:55:25
    life.
  • 00:55:27
    But God with a mighty hand rescued you, he saved you, Dad.
  • 00:55:34
    And ever since that day, you've put God first.
  • 00:55:36
    And I know that your life is different.".
  • 00:55:38
    And friends, I've got to tell you,
  • 00:55:40
    as I sat there watching my father leave this life,
  • 00:55:44
    I knew that he was going to a new life.
  • 00:55:47
    And it changed everything in the room.
  • 00:55:50
    It changed everything in the room.
  • 00:55:51
    My friend Jim Gormley captured a photo that is very, very meaningful to me.
  • 00:55:56
    This is from 2012 when my dad came to Cincinnati
  • 00:56:00
    and was a part of a message that I gave on this stage,
  • 00:56:02
    it was a part of his journey that we did.
  • 00:56:04
    It was about having a seat at the father's table.
  • 00:56:06
    And one of the reasons I brought my dad
  • 00:56:08
    is because my dad was a fan of breakfast,
  • 00:56:11
    my dad made a hot breakfast for -- a hot and heavy breakfast.
  • 00:56:13
    You guys remember that if you were here.
  • 00:56:15
    A hot and heavy every morning, that was like his thing.
  • 00:56:17
    He always gave us that kind of breakfast.
  • 00:56:19
    And so I brought my dad here.
  • 00:56:20
    And the way we finished that service is
  • 00:56:22
    we had biscuits and bacon for everybody at Crossroads.
  • 00:56:25
    So you could get a taste of what it was like at the Mingo table.
  • 00:56:27
    It was awesome.
  • 00:56:29
    And Jim captured this moment, this embrace and the kiss,
  • 00:56:33
    because one of the things my dad also taught me
  • 00:56:35
    is that it is not effeminate for father to kiss and love his son.
  • 00:56:39
    And I'm so thankful for that lesson.
  • 00:56:42
    And I think about this picture.
  • 00:56:44
    And when Jim sent it to me, I had two thoughts go through my mind.
  • 00:56:47
    And I believe one of them was from me.
  • 00:56:49
    I believe one of them was from God.
  • 00:56:50
    And you might say, "You wanted to believe this was true.
  • 00:56:53
    This was your grief speaking."
  • 00:56:54
    Maybe so.
  • 00:56:55
    But let me tell you what I thought.
  • 00:56:57
    In that moment the first thought I had was,
  • 00:56:58
    "God, I am so thankful for every time I got to embrace my father.
  • 00:57:02
    I'm so thankful for the B.G.
  • 00:57:04
    moment in his life.,
  • 00:57:06
    the "but God" moment in his life that changed his life
  • 00:57:09
    from a life of sin and brought him into a life of freedom.
  • 00:57:12
    I am so thankful for that."
  • 00:57:16
    And then I felt like I heard Jesus say to me,
  • 00:57:20
    "You see that embrace? Do you see that kiss?
  • 00:57:25
    That's exactly how I welcomed your dad
  • 00:57:27
    when he came into my presence last Friday."
  • 00:57:29
    [applause].
  • 00:57:30
    It was just like that.
  • 00:57:35
    My dad wasn't always a believer.
  • 00:57:37
    My dad didn't always put God first,
  • 00:57:39
    but God with a mighty hand, saved my father.
  • 00:57:45
    When I was 8 years old, my father baptized me.
  • 00:57:48
    So I will gladly put God first because I know
  • 00:57:52
    that my life left out of here,
  • 00:57:53
    my dad left out here with a life in order.
  • 00:57:56
    Because he put God first.
  • 00:57:59
    And so every week we've just been asking you to to pause
  • 00:58:03
    and ask, "God, what are you saying to me?"
  • 00:58:05
    What is God saying to you through this principle of first?
  • 00:58:09
    What is it that he wants you to know, to hear, to do today?
  • 00:58:14
    I just want to give you a moment,
  • 00:58:16
    just in the quiet of where you are right now, if you're online,
  • 00:58:18
    if you're in a room to ask him,
  • 00:58:20
    "God, what do you want me to do with what I've heard today?".
  • 00:58:23
    Just ask him. Take a moment.
  • 00:58:47
    - Well, I hope that you have some great food for thought
  • 00:58:51
    and then you're gonna put action behind it this week as you put God first.
  • 00:58:56
    You know, wherever you are on that spectrum of believing that
  • 00:59:00
    or ready to do that, we would love to pray for you.
  • 00:59:04
    We have staff and volunteers who right now would pray for you by name
  • 00:59:08
    for the specific thing that you want from God or that you need right now.
  • 00:59:13
    So if you chat with us on the Crossroads Web site,
  • 00:59:16
    you can head to Crossroads.net
  • 00:59:18
    and click on the chat button in the bottom right hand corner.
  • 00:59:21
    And we would love to pray for you.
  • 00:59:24
    Next week, we're going to continue our series, The Blessed Life.
  • 00:59:28
    We'll see you back at a location near you
  • 00:59:30
    or right here on Crossroads Anywhere.
Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...

Welcome to the Post-Weekend Push with Brian Tome.

  1. “Firsts” are always memorable. I remember my first motorcycle crash. It was a bummer. Tell your group about one of your favorite “firsts”—first trip overseas, first big-boy/girl job, first baby, etc. Besides a quick story, also share why this first was so meaningful.

  2. There are some things God cannot do, like occupy second place. God is first in all things—but lets let’s get real. Living with God first in all areas takes effort and focus. Where is a place in your life where God isn’t first? What type of reorienting would it take to put Him first in that area?

  3. The tithe isn’t about funding God’s work. It’s about establishing His place in your life. It’s an act of faith, and I believe God responds to faith like that. You might not believe that yet, so for the next 90 days, we put a safety net under you. Hundreds of people have signed up for the 90 Day Tithe Test. Have you? Why or why not? If it’s time, head to crossroads.net/tithetest

  4. One of the scriptures we have been using, Malachi 3:10, uses the word “bring” instead of “give.” We “bring” our tithe to God, we don’t “give” it. Why? Because we can’t give what isn’t ours in the first place. If you were able to fully believe your finances were God’s, and not yours, how would that affect your approach and attitude toward giving?

  5. Jesus is God’s tithe. God gave his best, and he gave it first. How does it make you feel knowing that God has set an example for you in the area of giving? How do you personally approach the gift of Jesus?

  6. Pray: Before you go, take time to pray for each person in your group, by name.

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Nov 2, 2019

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