It is a privilege to come before God with an offering. God gave specific instructions to his chosen people–the Israelites–that they should not come before him empty-handed. And when presenting the sacrifices it had to be the best. No animal with a defect was to be sacrificed to God (Deut 15:21). “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God” (Ex 23:19). God also said, “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me” (Ex 34:19). Read Exodus 34:20 and Deuteronomy 16:19 about not coming empty-handed into God’s presence.
Cristina was very poor in material things but she was rich in generosity. She had at least eight children to feed. Her husband was an alcoholic and most of his wages were spent on satisfying his personal cravings; that is when he wasn’t working for my dad. He would work on the construction projects for our Bible institute and the agreement was that the pay-checks went to Cristina. He wasn’t very happy about that but out of respect for my dad he accepted it. Every time Cristina visited my mom she would smile shyly and say, “I brought something for you.” And out of her apron pocket she would take an egg and give it to mom. It was hard for my mother to accept that egg since she knew Cristina’s kids needed it more, but that was all Cristina had to offer, so my mother would take the egg. Of course my parents tried to help her as much as they could and this was her way of expressing gratitude.
Another precious lady from the Huancayo, Peru area is Yolanda. She has the most loving spirit. Every time she had harvested something she would bring her “firstfruits” as an offering to the Lord. Her smiley face was enough to light up a whole room!
There is nobody on this planet that has nothing to give. Even the poorest of the poor can offer something. Maybe you have sung at one time or another, the chorus “We bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.” If nothing else, we can offer praise. And praise changes circumstances, because praise changes us. After praising the Lord we see things differently. Praise changes our perspective and we start to see things from God’s point of view. With the “God-focus” nothing looks the same as before putting on his lenses!
There is a beautiful song in Spanish called “There are windows in Heaven, and they open up towards us.” Now, isn’t that a revelation. Just look up, and with the eyes of your imagination, picture them opening up and blessings just falling all over you!
A few years ago I was hooked on photographing license plates to make a photo-collection with plates from each one of the fifty states. I’m missing a few but my collection is quite complete. I also like funny-reading plates, and this is one that brings me to the question, Are you a tither? This is God’s promise: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it” (Mal 3:10)
God will open his floodgates when you bring your tithes to the storehouse, the church. Have you seen the latest commercial for Verizon wireless? A guy hits a piñata and the candy just starts pouring out and continues pouring like crazy. I guess it’s suppose to illustrate all the minutes you get, but it sure can illustrate what will happen in your life when you start obeying God, about not coming into his presence empty-handed, bringing your firstfruits as an offering to him, and making sure you don’t rob him of your tithes.
One time in my life I had to ask the Lord to hold on to his blessings because my mortal being could not handle all he was pouring on me. And I’m not talking about money. Yes, he can bless us with money if that’s what we need, but I don’t think that is what the Scripture is referring to. The love of money is the root to all evil, and most people cannot handle a lot of money. That’s probably why there are few millionaires, even if there are some more now with all these contests and shows that offer the winners a million dollars. Let them keep their money; there are far better blessings than dollar bills.
Health, happiness, contentment, compassion, peace, joy, children, grandchildren, friends, a spouse, a job, co-workers, freedom of speech, a church family… I’m trying to make a list. You make your own list of blessings you would like to be poured on you, like when the Verizon guy hits the piñata.
Here is another promise, “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Prov 3:9-10).
When Nehemiah had finished rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the people gathered for the reading of the Law and to confess their sins. Among the promises they made was this, “We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the LORD each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree” (Neh 10:35). It is not a matter of multiple choice, if you want to or not. God expects us to bring something when we come before him. If nothing else, bring before him a humble spirit. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps 51:17).
Do you want the floodgates of heaven to open up and blessings to be poured on you? Don’t come before God empty-handed. Give him the best you have to offer, not the crumbs. Bring your tithes to the storehouse and offer him praise. That’s what he commands us to do!