First Fruits is Not a Cure All
My last study was entitled `So what´s the deal on first fruits?´ That study was designed to only focus on first fruits alone. We need to learn another important truth about financial blessings. Remember how I ended the study? Get out of debt. Get out of debt. Get out of debt.
In this study we are going to find out why 'first fruits' is not a cure all when it comes to our financial needs and our heavenly blessings. Are you ready? (Note: I offered this study on my online journal but since many of you probably aren't into blogs, I felt it important to offer it on this forum.)
This is Bible Study DU016 - First Fruits is Not a Cure all.
Why is it that when some believers finally catch a glimmer on the wonderful world of first fruits, and when they set about to do first fruits they get discouraged? Nothing much seems to change. You should know the answer to that. The reason nothing seems to change is because the debts they make and continue to make are greater than the blessings that can be had in their sowings. Boy, that will knock the wind out of a person's sails.
It is true. There are two sides to the coin concerning the blessings of first fruits to the Lord. These two sides work together. How can a believer expect the blessings of the Lord to flow in when the believer continues to stack up debts? And it all comes back to a matter of trust. The same Lord who spoke to us about first fruits, also spoke to us about not making worldly debts.
Listen to these Old Testament statements that are for God's people of all the ages:
"...you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.' But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is to this day." (Deu 8:17,18 nasb.)
"For the Lord your God will bless you as He has promised you, and you will lend to many nations, but YOU WILL NOT BORROW..." (Deu 15:6 nasb.)
"The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain in your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands; and you shall lend to many nations, but YOU SHALL NOT BORROW." (Deu 28:12 nasb.)
Now to the New Testament writings:
"Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law." (Romans 13:8 nasb.)
Remember what I said in the earlier study? The curse of the Law has been removed, but not the blessings of the Law. When we become obedient from our hearts to the instructions of the Lord, then we are in a position to receive what the Lord has promised.
Again listen: "For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us." (2 Corinthians 1:20 nasb. The promises are encoded throughout the Scriptures for our benefit.)
Here is one more. Try to look at it through spiritual eyes:
" ... seeing that His divine power has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by means of them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the world by lust." (2 Peter 1:3,4 nasb.)
Notice that the promises pertain both to our completed salvation in Christ, but all the promises in Scriptures are made part of our inheritance in Christ. They apply to both the spiritual and the natural. The issue is that we must become partakers of them. This means that we must take the promises to ourselves and apply the principles that belong to the promises.
So far so good. Here is where the problem often comes in. Many of us were never taught about issues of debts. Most everything we ever heard was, 'Get to paying your tithe or you are cursed with a curse.'
What a horrible teaching. No one is cursed with a curse for not tithing. There is no such curse to be had in the new covenant. But neither should we expect the awesome blessings that comes with first fruits and other kinds of givings, if we are not givers, or, if we are living in debt to the world.
There are two crucial matters involved when it comes to getting out of debt. Both matters involve attitude. Let me deal with the first one by way of testimony.
It was only when the Lord began to open my eyes to the principles of Biblical finance, that I understood the real problem. This is what I did. First, I asked the Lord to forgive me for making the debts that I had. Secondly, Betty and I came up with a plan where we would begin to work some sacrificial giving.
What I am about to share is as true as the sun is hot. After we made these two determinations, asking forgiveness and sacrificial giving, the Lord spoke into my heart and said, "Because you have believed Me, in six months you will be out of debt." (At that time we owed several thousands of dollars.)
Need I tell the rest? In six months not only were we fully out of debt, but also we were back into fulltime ministry, pastoring a church that had never had a full time minister, and being blessed on a level that I never knew was possible. It was like we had passed through a gate to miracle land.
Would you believe me if I told you that we have not had a regular car payment or a house note in 33 years? No, God did not shower us with gold dust from heaven. It all began with a true heart of obedience. It all continued as we learned the wonders of giving according to the Lord and of getting out of debt.
I could tell some very funny stories about how we learned our lessons. (Yes, I know about rain coming through the roof of our rented house in our attempt to be faithful. But I also know about how rent can turn into the blessings of our own home debt free.)
Perhaps just one story will help. As we pastored our small country church, I happened to have in my billfold a hundred-dollar bill and a one-dollar bill. A friend was holding a tent meeting not too far from us. All day long I wanted to get to the store to change the hundred dollars into twenty-dollar bills. After all, back then twenty dollars was a pretty decent offering. (Keep in mind that we are were learning about sacrificial giving.)
Here we are in the tent. Boy am I ever sweating. Looks like they aren't going to take up an offering? Good. Then it happens. There I am squirming in my seat. The plate comes by. I take out the one-dollar bill and place it in the plate, hoping no one is looking too hard.
Not so good. The Lord puts pressure on me. So I said, "Brother, come on back." I then took the hundred-dollar bill and put it in the plate. Guess what? Betty was sitting behind me with one of her friends and she saw everything I was going through. I think that girl loves to see me squirm at times.
Then it happened - As we were driving home I'm sure I heard this voice in my heart, saying, "If you had given the hundred-dollar bill, you would have the one-dollar bill right now. As it were, you had to give the hundred and the one-dollar bill." Now I'm not too sure about this, but I believe I heard a bit of Holy Spirit laughter.
How hard it can be for us to learn some of these lessons. However, the Lord did let me see the blessings that came from my day of giving it all.
Here is the second matter that I want to put before you. Everything revolves around the attitude of the heart. I hate the prosperity teachings today that are so earthly minded. All they do is set one's mind on silver and gold. Those kinds of teachings will eat away at the fiber of our walk with the Lord. Bible prosperity has never been about how much worldly goods we can accrue for ourselves. True prosperity is about making us a blessing to others.
How we need to understand this. Once again consider these Scriptures:
"He will not fear evil tidings His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. ... He has given freely to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be exalted in honor." (Psalm 112 nasb. Did you know that this Scripture is alluded to by Paul in the New Testament?)
Folks, righteousness is not simply a confession we make because our salvation in Jesus Christ is completed. That is true enough. However, righteousness is also a path that we walk. It is a way of living. In fact the very early English spelling of righteousness was rightwiseness. Do you want to be a wise man or woman? Learn to walk in the ways of the Lord.
Here is the other attitude Scripture that I want you to see: "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind [i.e., attitude] on things above, NOT on things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:1,2 nasb.)
Do you see where much of the prosperity teachings are taking people today? They are making people worldly-thinkers. God deliver us from these evil teachings. To walk with the Lord rightly, we must have pure motives.
Does the Lord want you to prosper? Yes, more than you know. The Psalmist said, "The Lord be magnified, who delights in the prosperity of His servant." (Psalm 35:27 nasb.)
Now you see why first fruits is not a cure all.
There is so much more I would like to share. How much more I would like to tell you about the times the Lord called Betty and me to sacrificial giving so as to break a troublesome yoke over our finances. Most of the time the sacrificial giving was for the benefit of Christian Challenge. But these will remain secrets of our heart, perhaps to be shared in due season.
Are you ready? Will you learn some of God's secrets of the heart?
Keep two things in mind. First, pray for guidance in your giving. Get your instructions from the Lord. And, secondly, get out of debt. Get out of debt. Get out of debt.
Hope I've helped a bit.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."
This study was originally shared on January 8, 2007. It was written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added January 8, 2007
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