Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! 1 Chronicles 16:29
Last week we looked at God’s desire to be first in our lives. He deserves first place, beloved. After all, you and I wouldn’t even be here without Him. He gives life and provides every good thing.
I think you’ll find that He will never agree to be second.
And He has established by His Word that those who honor Him first will walk in the bounty of His blessing.
Is He first in your life, dear one? Does your life center around Him and His purpose?
Perhaps you’re wondering how to put God first. It’s simple, really. We put God first when we honor and trust His Word.
When you and I seek to know and understand God’s heart through His Word and choose to live by the principles He reveals, we begin to live by faith. And faith, dear one, opens the door to His marvelous grace.
Today we’ll focus on one particular principle woven throughout scripture: the sacred portion.
Let’s begin by establishing a truth I pray you already know.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1
As the Creator of all things, everything belongs to God. Yet He chose to do something remarkable.
The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man. Psalm 115:16
God created a world by the breath of His mouth, and then gave it to the people He formed from the dust of its surface. He handed us authority (Genesis 1:26), allowing us to choose whether we’d walk with Him and live in His promises, or whether we would discover the hardship of life lived apart from Him.
He desperately longs for us to choose fellowship with Him and trust His Word. He wants our believing lives to become evidence of His truth. And one way He ordained that we can honor Him is by returning the sacred portion to Him.
You see, although He has given His creation to man, He has set aside a portion of everything for Himself. He allows us to live on His provision and enjoy it, but He has set apart the first of everything His hand brings forth and marked it as holy.
The sacred portion belongs to Him, dear one.
And He promises that if we will offer Him the first of everything, He will bless all the rest for our use.
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. Proverbs 3:9-10
God has also claimed the first of everything born.
“You shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb.” Exodus 13:12
Mary and Joseph honored this decree when they brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord” Luke 2:22-23).
Ezekiel 44:30 reveals the benefit of living by this principle.
And the first of all the firstfruits of all kinds, and every offering of all kinds from all your offerings, shall belong to the priests. You shall also give to the priests the first of your dough, that a blessing may rest on your house.
God promises His people that if we will honor Him by returning to Him the first of all He provides, He will bless the rest.
You may be tempted to argue that these principles were a part of Jewish law that we are no longer bound to. I would challenge that thinking by pointing out that this principle shows up long before Israel or its laws had been established. We only need to venture into the fourth chapter of Genesis to find it.
Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. Genesis 4:2-5
I used to wonder why God seemed to regard Cain unfairly. I mean, if Cain worked the ground, isn’t it only right that his offering would come from its fruit?
Then God showed me the principle of the first.
You see, Cain brought an offering of some fruit to God in the course of time. Abel brought from the firstborn and the best portions.
Abel returned to God what was rightfully His, honoring Him with his first and best. Cain took the best for himself and offered to God what was left over. Abel received the blessing of God. Cain did not.
Perhaps we should consider God’s words in Malachi 3:6.
“For I the Lord do not change.”
You might be interested to read the context of that declaration.
“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Malachi 3:8-10
God’s challenge is simple. Return to God what is His, and ours will be blessed. Take from what belongs to Him, and He will remove His blessing from what is ours.
You and I are not bound to the law, dear one. But we are bound by the principles God has declared in His Word. And He has declared that the first of everything is sacred and His.
Will you trust God by returning the holy portion, full of faith that He will provide more?
Then you shall say before the Lord your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, . . . Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people. Deuteronomy 26:13a, 15a