Text: Genesis 22:1-8 April 5, 2009.
1) Leftovers for friends: Imagine I have invited some friends to my home for dinner. Then I have two options on how to prepare the dinner: I may take time to plan, spend money to buy and efforts to cook some special dishes for them or I just throwing some leftovers into the microwave to serve them. The way I treat my friends speaks volumes about how I really feel about them. It also shows what kind of a host I am to my friends.
2) Leftovers for God: Imagine I have invited Jesus into my heart to be my Lord and Savior and He has forgiven my sins, blessed my life and my family with all his riches and grace. But when He asks that He want me to give Him my service, my time, my resources and my priority, all I do is giving him some leftovers from my busy schedule and remnant of my treasures. This also speaks volumes of how I really feel about the worth of the Lord. It also shows what kind of a Christian I really am.
WHY WE GIVE GOD LEFTOVERS?
1) Lack the first love to God: “Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love.” (Rev. 2:4) This is what the Lord Jesus accused the church in Ephesus of lacking “their first love to Him.” I assume that all Christians love the Lord somewhat. But that is not what the Lord is asking. He wants our first love, to be the first and the utmost in our hearts. Anything less than that are just leftovers. This is what God asked of Abraham and Jesus asked of Peter. (John 21:15) If we do not give our first love to the Lord, then we just give him the leftovers.
2) There is no room for God: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15) When God first created all the nice things of the world, He did not intend to drive men from Him to those nice things. But when men crave the things of the world, there is no room in their heart for God and that is exactly why many Christians have been distracted. They love the things of the world so much that they can’t and won’t give God things of high value except their leftovers.
3) Focus on the wrong thing: “And I will say to my soul: You have plenty of good things stored up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” (Luke 19:22) When God pours out His blessings on what we do, instead of focusing and drawing closer to God in thanksgiving, we often place our focus on the things God has given. This is a terrible mistake. We see too many men did just that. We should focus on God and give Him our best to show our gratitude. But too often, we keep all His blessings and only give Him our leftovers.
4) It is plain robbing God: “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. You ask, How do we rob you? In tithes and offering.” (Malachi 3:8-9) All through the Bible, we are told that all that we are and what we have belong to God. He has given us what we have as a trust and we are to be faithful to His trust. (1 Corinth. 4:2) We are also told to give God what belongs to Him: our tithes, time, life, talents and love. The foremost reason we give God only our leftovers is because we are stingy to Him. Prophet Malachi accused the Israelis in the Old Testament and us today of robbing God what actually belong to Him, When we don’t give God what we owe Him, we rob Him of what He deserves.
WHY GIVE GOD OUR BEST?
1) Because all ours are His: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15) This is the first record of God placing all His creation in the hands of man, Adam. King David ascribed God’s ownership in His psalms like this: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1) In teaching about gifts and talents, Paul asked, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinth. 4:7) Since all that we have are His, shouldn’t we give Him His fair share?
2) Because God asks we give: “Bring in the whole tithe into the storehouse that may be food in my house.” (Malachi 3:10) God loves to see that we are faithful in giving back His portion to Him. So much in the Bible has commanded that God’s people are to be faithful in giving tithes and offering to demonstrate our love and gratitude. We love God in ways more than lip service but in actions. Since God loves us so much that He gave us the life of His only Son to save our souls, how much should we give Him to show our gratitude?
3) Because it is our duties: “Would the master thanks the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” (Luke 17:9-10) The Bible tells us that we do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Giving God our best is the right thing to do and we should do it faithfully. Giving God the leftovers is the wrong thing to do and we should never do it.
4) Because of God’s blessing: “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.” (Malachi 3:10b) We should not give to God for the purpose of receiving more blessing. We should give to God because it is the right thing. But if we are faithful in giving, God promises to pour out blessings on us much more than what you may give Him. Giving is never a losing business.
THE TEST OF FAITHFUL GIVING: (Genesis 22:1-8)
1) The need of testing: “Some time later God tested Abraham.” (Genesis 22:1) Testing is a necessary process to determine the quality of things such as schoolwork, metal refining, function of products like cars and many others. God often used tests to mold and refine people to His standard. In the agony of testing, Job said, “He knows the way I take. When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) James encouraged the early Christians to stand firm in time of tests: “You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance that you may be mature and complete lacking nothing.” (James 1:3) All products of good quality must go through vigorous tests and passed before they are sent to the market. Same is true for us as Christians: we must be tested and pass the test to be useful and productive for God and His Kingdom ministry.
2) The cost of testing: “God said: Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him as a burning offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” (22:2) God is the ultimate owner of everything in the universe including our very existence. He deserves our best and has the right to take it away from us. There is a cost in every test. Sometimes the costs are high. He wants to see if we are ready and willing to give Him the most important in our hearts.
3) The obedience in testing: “Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled the donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burning offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.” (22:3)How many of us will do like Abraham did: ready and willing to give his only son back to God without hesitation, struggle or bargaining? His obedience earns him the title of “father of faith.”
4) The faith in testing: “Abraham answered: God himself will provide the lamb for the burn offering, my son.” (22:8)From the records in vv. 9-10, we see that Abraham didn’t expect God to provide another lamb for the sacrifice. In his own heart, all the way from home to Moriah, he knew that his son, Isaac, was the lamb God had provided for this occasion. He might have asked in his heart: How is God going to fulfill his promise that he will be the father of many nations when his only son is going to die as a sacrifice. But his love to God supercedes his human mind and his faith in the Almighty supercedes the loss of a son.
5) The results of testing: “Do not lay a hand on the boy, said the angel. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (22:12) God was very pleased to see that Abraham had no reservation, hesitation or wavering heart in giving Him his very best, his only son. There is no one and nothing in his heart except God is the only Lord. Abraham didn’t give God his leftovers. He gave God his very best.
1) How will you invest? All of us invest our time, energy, resource and talents in things we consider valuable and beneficial. But none of the things we invest in the world has lasting value to our life today or years to come, much less to eternity. So, choose wisely to whom or in what we invest our limited resources. Be wise to invest in God, His Kingdom and His ministry that you may receive dividend much more than you may dream of.
2) Pay your dues honestly: We all receive blessings, trusts and talents from God. He gave us these for his better use. Do not hide them under the carpet. Use them wisely, grow them, and bring in your harvest to God. Give God the best of your time, the most of your money and the utmost of your life to serve Him, please Him and save souls for Him. Be generous to God in giving your best, not the leftovers, while you still have them and you will see how much God will bless you beyond your dreams.
3) Give Him your life: Before you give anything else to God, give him your life, the control of your life, the direction, value and purpose. Be humble before him, ask him to be your Lord and Master to forgive your sins and accept His gift of eternal life. He is waiting for your decision. Don’t wait for another day because you don’t know if you have another day.