The Christian and Giving- First Fruits

Firstfruit and Our Finances

Prov 3:9-10 
9 Honor the LORD from your wealth 
And from the first of all your produce; 
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty 
And your vats will overflow with new wine. 

In my early days of ministry, I remember serving in my denominational church in Japan. We served there three plus years and during that time we prayed for the sick, cast out demons, and saw many miracles. You would think that seeing all the great things that God does, people would want to go deeper with God and tap into that authority He won back for us. However, we found that most people are always looking at their wallet. If they are “blessed”, that isn’t some spiritual thing. It means they have all the provision (money, food, and things) that they could possibly need.

In the Japanese church, I found that the most common question was how do I walk in financial prosperity that the Bible preaches? Being a good student of law in my University days, I answered their question with a question. I always asked them, do you tithe regularly? The answer was always, one-hundred percent of the time, yes that’s 100% of the time, a big NO.

After a handful of people responded to the same question in the same way, we got smart and started a course on Sunday after church called God’s Financial Plan. In that way we were able to teach the whole church how God’s Word works in the financial area. To tap into God’s Financial Plan one of the very basic things is you have to be a giver. But that is not just a giver, but a regular giver. What is a regular giver? Well, Proverbs 3:9,10 lays that right out for us. If we are believer in God, then we need to honor Him with our Firstfruits. What are the Firstfruits? We are to give of the Firstfruits of our income. In the Old Testament, that was usually the first fruits of our crops. That is the top ten percent of what we produce was given to God in thanksgiving for all that He has given us.

If we are a farmer, then that would be taking the best off the top and offering it to God. Some might ask, “But Pastor, God does not need our money…” Well, He doesn’t need our money in Heaven but He does use it to work on this earth to work through His servants. Just as Abraham gave a tithe to the priest-king Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20) to honor the Lord for His victory, we are to honor the Lord with the Firstfruits of our labor.

It is interesting that Abraham chose to give off the top ten percent (10%) of his income, hence the beginning of the word tithe, which means 1/10th. Personally, I don’t think we are limited to giving the first 1/10th of our income. The point is that we are needing to be a consistent and thankful givers. Rather than saying tithe, at our church family we like to call our tithes our Firstfruits as that is exactly what they are; the first fruits of our labor, the cream on the top of the milk we have skimmed off and offered to God. They can be whatever percentage of your income that you have faith to give for. For our family, the ten percent is a minimum as we are so thankful what God has done through our local church and we want Him to keep it up.

For the founder of a major US corporation, his goal was to give 90% and keep 10% for himself. And he did it, but not only did he do it but he built the best company in his field because God blessed him for honoring God first.

Well, what is God’s Financial Plan?

1) Give your Firstfruits to the church you are ministered to at and where you call home. Your offerings can go anywhere as these are above your regular giving.

2) Give consistently. If you are experiencing financial lack, it is most likely because you are not giving consistently. If you are on a salary, most people give the Sunday following the receipt of their paycheck.

3) Give with a cheerful heart. This is probably the most important point. If you are not happy and thankful about giving then you should keep your Firstfruits. God wants you to give because you love Him and want to do so.

One other guideline we follow is we give our Firstfruits to the church where we are being ministered to. Anything above that becomes the offering. Offerings can be given anywhere God leads you to give. We give offerings as God directs to orphanages, missionaries in other countries, intercity ministries… however you are led by God’s spirit. You can even give regular offerings to ministries that God really ministers to you through.

The amazing part is the connection you get as you tithe your Firstfruits and sow your offering seeds into ministries. We have seen a direct connection in our lives between where we give and how God provides for us. It is amazing how when we are giving into a ministry that is good ground we are blessed. What is a good ground ministry? A good ground ministry is one that is 1) Proclaiming God’s Kingdom 2) Healing the Sick (Matthew 4:23). When we began giving into good ground ministries as well, our income increased three-fold. What does that mean in monetary terms? Ten-thousand Japanese yen became thirty-thousand Yen. For those who operate in dollars, $100 became $300. Hallelujah!

Praise the Name of Jesus! God is SO good. He is the ultimate giver who gave His Son to die on our behalf. 

Posted on 10 October, 2006

The Benefits of Participation

 

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil 1:3-7, NASU

Participation- 
As we are study through the book of Philippians at Victory Word Church, the theme of the book becomes very evident.  In Philippians 1:5, Paul commends the believers for their participation in the work of the Gospel. 

In this world, I have heard that participation by people in various groups is on the downturn.  The Rotary Club, the Lions Club, various civic groups are struggling to gain new membership.  People are no longer willing to spend time working for various causes as everyone becomes more self-centric, overloaded with too many other things to do, and just plain distracted.

This is not true for the church of Jesus Christ the Son of God.  The work of Jesus Christ on the cross is still changing people from the inside out.  People are changed by the power of the Gospel.  There are physical and spiritual healings, deliverences from drugs and sexual sins, and complete changes in people as they go from the darkness to the Light of God.

But, what makes believers different from all of these other dying groups?  The difference is the power of the Word of God (the Gospel) that acts in people’s lives as they apply the Word and act on the Word.  That power is activated as people participate in the church that God has called them to.  In Japan, many people start attending church at one particular body of believers (church) and stay there until they die.  This in general is noble, however it is trouble if the pastor stops seeking God’s direction and heart for the people of the area.  If the pastor is not spiritually sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, how can he lead the church into a deeper relationship with God?  The church needs to be praying and interceding for the pastor.  If there is no change, or no desire to change then it might be time to seriously consider looking for a healthy church.

People need to participate in the work that God has called them to.  Find a great church and get involved.  As you get involved in the giving of your tithe, your time, your love, your patience, your leadership, your support, your lifting the leadership up in prayer, yourself; God will bless you exceeding, abundantly above all that you could ever ask or think.  The church is not a building, but the family of God.  Families are made up of individuals.  The more that you add to the family, the more you benefit.

Come join us as we study on in the book of Philippians.  You will be amazed as the great plans God has for you.

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!  Philippians 4:4 

Posted on 12 September, 2006