Words create worlds. The impact of words is clear starting with the first chapter of the Bible, “And God said…” It is important that we speak what God’s word says concerning our world, ourselves and others.
Words That Will Change Your Life – The Power of Words
Pastor Brett Jones
January 12, 2020
Main Idea – Words create worlds. The impact of words is clear starting with the first chapter of the Bible, “And God said…” It is important that we speak what God’s word says concerning our world, ourselves and others.
The world was setup by words:
- Genesis 1:3: “And God said…”
- God could have thought or blinked the world into existence, but He chose to use words.
- God used words to speak light, land, oceans, clouds, sun, moon and stars into existence.
- God did not start with anything; He framed the world by His words.
Hebrew 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (NKJV)
Adam used words to name everything God made.
- God brought all creatures to Adam; He did not send them, but brought them.
- Adam spoke the name for all the creatures as God listened and watched.
- In this picture of Adam naming each creature, we can see that words are the single most powerful force we can use.
What is the impact of words?
- Words can be constructive (encouraging) or destructive (cause of despair).
- Words were used by one person (Hitler) to launch WWII while another person (Churchhill) used words to bring hope.
- We should speak words filled with gentleness and humility.
- Words can cause wounds. Wounds lead to scars. Scars are the sign of healing from words spoken over someone that were intended to wound.
- “Words can be bullets (take life) or seeds (give life).” Gary Chapman
- Words and their influence
- James 3:3-6 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. (NKJV)
- What this passage demonstrates about words:
- Words can accomplish or destroy anything.
- We should make sure every word we speak is life-giving.
- The tongue controls the whole body; its impact is huge.
- Words give sentence to life, or a life sentence.
- Some examples of phrases we often hear; the impact can be positive or negative:
- Phrases that make life go better-
- You are the most perfect you there is.
- You look great today.
- You have the best smile.
- You make me a better person.
- Phrases that have negative impact-
- You are worthless.
- This looks better than last week.
- You are really dumb.
- You really gained a lot of weight.
- We live with protracted situations due to unclear communication.
- We must take care not to let our words leave the chance something may happen that we did not intend to fulfill.
- Right words can change everything. For example, asking ‘What is troubling you?’ versus ‘What is wrong with you?’
- A misprint of the King James Bible which left out the word ‘NOT’ in Exodus 20:14 changed the passage from, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” to “Thou shalt commit adultery”. One word can make a difference.
- Powerful words create powerful worlds
- Psalm 107:1-2a – “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,… (NKJV)
- If you are not living an overcoming life, change your words.
- We need to say the words of Scripture so others can hear the words. And, we need to hear the words we are saying.
- When God says something to us directly, or through the Word, we must speak it out as an affirmation. “I shall not die, but live. And declare the works of the Lord.” Psalm 118:17 (NKJV)
Words are declarations:
- Job 22:28 “You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you; so light will shine on your ways.” (NKJV)
- If you are not saying the right things, the world will not be right.
- It is great practice to say what God says, else you are saying what you fear most.
- When we are not speaking God’s words about ourselves, or our situation, then we are merely speaking our own words. Are you speaking cynicism or destruction over yourself or others?
- Say great declarations over your life.
- Words are seeds. Put the right seeds (words) in the ground with your words.
- The prodigal son began to declare this before returning to his father’s house. He practiced his words to regain his relationship.
Luke 15: 17-19 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” (NKJV)
- When something needs to happen, it is just waiting to be said.
Reflective Questions for Words That Will Change Your Life – The Power of Words
- What are the words you are saying about yourself, your situation and others? Are they life-giving words? Using the examples shared in the lesson, give an example of a phrase you use that could be more positive (that aligns with God’s word for the situation or person).
- What words has God spoken to you through this teaching, or through others, that you need to start declaring?
- What have you identified as life-giving words (from Scripture) that you will speak over yourself in 2020?
- Like the prodigal son, what words do you need to speak (declare) to regain your relationship with Christ?
Saying “yes” to Jesus means more than simply accepting Him as your Savior; it is also saying “yes” to an eternal perspective that is free from the distractions of self-serving and short-term thinking.
Words That Will Change Your Life – “Yes”
Pastor Stephen Hayes
January 5, 2020
Main Idea – Saying “yes” to Jesus means more than simply accepting Him as your Savior; it is also saying “yes” to an eternal perspective that is free from the distractions of self-serving and short-term thinking.
Each day matters
- The beginning of a new calendar year is a good time to make resolutions that will help you live a better life.
- Don’t let failures hold you back. Even if you are not able to maintain a resolution, start over again the next day.
- Does God have a new word for you? If He does, you will want to have a strategy for hearing it and then following through with right decisions.
- You might have to eliminate something you are currently doing in order to have space for God’s new thing.
Answer “yes” to the resurrected life Jesus offers
- Lazarus was a friend of Jesus, and the brother of some of Jesus’ followers. When Lazarus became sick, Jesus purposefully delayed going to him in order to later demonstrate His divine power and resurrection quality.
- John 11: 3-6, 11-17, and 20-27 – Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. . . These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. . . Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (NKJV)
- Jesus was about to demonstrate a profound truth. Lazarus had died, and was soon to be resurrected; which was a good thing. However, Martha was in even a better place because she was still alive and was going to receive a spiritual resurrection through her expressed belief in Jesus. Therefore, she would never experience death as had Lazarus.
- Martha said “yes” even though she was in the middle of a traumatic, personal trial.
How to live a life of saying “yes” to Jesus
- God will speak to you in many ways. However, the devil – and the natural world- will also speak to you in ways that can divert you from a meaningful life.
- You need a strategy to filter out life’s distractions so you can stay attentive to what God will show you.
- When faced with a decision, following are three filters you can use to make sure you are on God’s path.
- Now, later, and forever
- When faced with a decision, ask yourself, “Does this matter now? Is it going to matter later? Is it doing anything for my forever?”
- The objective is to focus on eternal satisfaction, not instant gratification. Daily disciplines compound to greater successes.
- There are benefits to delaying your rewards. Research has shown that those who resist instant gratification live better lives. Develop an eternal mindset that controls temporal desires.
- Temporary “yesses” often do not leave room in one’s life for the more important eternal “yesses”.
- Destiny vs. distraction
- God will always open doors for you. If you are obedient and observant, you will also recognize when He is closing doors that would lead you to distraction.
- Revelation 3:8 – I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. (NKJV)
- Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (NKJV)
- In your life, let the Holy Spirit teach you how to recognize doors God is opening for you. Likewise, pray that He will also close doors that He did not open. What initially appears to be a good opportunity may not be God’s plan. With practice, the Holy Spirit will teach you how to discern these things.
- The Apostle Paul lived with the same challenges. Apparently, he occasionally was faced with decisions of where to travel with his ministry work. 1 Corinthians 16:9 – For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. (NKJV)
- In the above verse, Paul did not necessarily regard opposition as a bad thing. Oftentimes, God uses opposition to actually propel you forward on your path.
- The Apostle James explained it as being like a sailboat sailing into the wind. Those who know how to sail know how to position the sails and rudder so that a direct wind will actually propel the boat forward into the wind. James 3:4 – Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. (NKJV)
- James also taught that your words, like a ship’s rudder, have a great influence on your ability to follow God’s path. James 3:5 – Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. (NKJV)
- Your personal practices - and how you present yourself to others – can be likened to a big beautiful sail. Your words – and how you express yourself – can be likened to the rudder that points and guides the boat.
- To activate God’s involvement in your life, it is necessary to know His Word, to believe it, and to express it. Isaiah 53:1 – Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? (NKJV)
- Self-service vs. self-sacrifice
- Consider others’ needs before you consider your own needs. This is not a martyr complex where you will deny yourself and cause yourself pain. Rather, it’s a resurrected identity where you experience the richness of a blessed life.
- Matthew 20: 26-28 – “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (NKJV)
- Because Jesus laid down his life, you are able to pick up your own life with an eternal meaningfulness.
A resurrected lifestyle today
- In the John 11 verses (above), Jesus’ and Martha’s interaction shows that you can live a resurrected lifestyle every day: 25 “I am the resurrection and the life.”
- Not only do you have the promise of a resurrected eternal life, but also a resurrected current lifewhere your thoughts, words, and actions have eternal meaningfulness. Acts 17:28 – for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ (NKJV)
- Jesus has always been here, and has always been available to you. Trust His timing, be observant for the doors He has opened for your next steps, and express your appreciation for His blessings as you help others. Live a resurrected life right here on Earth.
Reflective Questions for Words That Will Change Your Life – “Yes”
- Like many Christians, perhaps you have wondered what it must have been like to be Lazarus: to have died and then come back to life. However, John 11:26 (above) says those who are living - and also believe in Jesus - will never die. Knowing that, take a moment to contemplate what you will experience as you move from this life to the life that comes next. What will you likely experience and observe during that transition?
- According to the Bible verses of this lesson – and others you may know of – why is opposition often a good thing?
- Do you occasionally struggle with having a temporal - rather than an eternal - mindset? If you do, don’t beat yourself up. Rather, as Pastor Stephen suggested, work to do better the next time. Which of his three filters (above) might help you the most?
Earthly institutions and individuals have always positioned themselves as “kings”. However, like the wisemen in the Christmas story, you should have only one King who guides and inspires your life. Prepare ahead of time so you will be able to recognize the true King, and then look heavenward to continually perceive His direction for you.
Where is my King?
Pastor Stephen Hayes
December 22, 2019
Main Idea – Earthly institutions and individuals have always positioned themselves as “kings”. However, like the wisemen in the Christmas story, you should have only one King who guides and inspires your life. Prepare ahead of time so you will be able to recognize the true King, and then look heavenward to continually perceive His direction for you.
Keep your eyes heavenward
- God’s guidance comes from Heaven. His word – while founded on universal truths - is often anointed with unique applications to each of us. One Scriptural word spoken by a human can be used by God for many purposes. Revelation 14: 2 – And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. (NKJV)
- The wisemen in the Christmas story traveled from a distant country because they were uniquely drawn by the Star of Bethlehem. Matthew 2: 1-12 – Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. (NKJV)
Earthly “kings” versus the real King
- King Herod – as an earthly king - was self-serving and paranoid. He was threatened by the news from the wisemen. His intention was to destroy Jesus and anyone who would follow Him.
- The true King, Jesus, desires to empower you. Jesus’ desire is to use you in His places of influence on earth.
- Every good thing in life comes to you from Heaven above.
- God put a star in the sky to guide the wisemen. Likewise, your guidance in life will come from above. Jesus often looked heavenward before performing miracles. One example: Matthew 14:19 – Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. (NKJV)
- You have the freedom in life to choose your king; be it either earthly or heavenly.
- If you choose to be guided by the heavenly King you must first develop the ability to receive. Jesus, among his many personal attributes, had the ability to willingly receive things from others. Mark 14: 6 – But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.” (NKJV)
- God will faithfully guide you through the days of your life. But, you must have the ability to recognize and receive His guidance.
- The Star of Bethlehem was visible to everyone. However, only the wisemen recognized it as a divine revelation.
How to act with wisdom and locate your King
- The wisemen had studied Biblical prophecy and knew what to recognize as a heavenly sign of the Messiah.
- In the same way, in your life, God will provide heavenly guidance for you if you have prepared to recognize it. James 1: 17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (NKJV)
- Prepare and develop your gifts. Give them back to God for His use. Just as God was faithful to continue to guide the wisemen to keep them from danger, He will faithfully guide you each step of your life.
- Your perception will determine your direction. If you are developing your perceptions from the influence of the secular world, you will most likely surely miss what God would have you perceive.
- Direct your eyes to the eternal. Do not be distracted by other people or things that are grounded in the visible world.
- People whose perceptions are from the world eventually become troubled by the natural world’s institutions and processes. Worldly systems and leaders can divert your path because God is often not their concern.
Dedicate your gifts and abilities to God and He will return gifts in abundance
- Luke 6: 38 – Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. (NKJV)
- Give God your gifts and abilities and He will give back in abundance.
- God will provide for your material needs. However, more importantly, He will give you the guidance and direction necessary for a meaningful life as someone who serves Him as the true King.
Reflective Questions for Where Is My King?
- The story of the wisemen and the Star of Bethlehem in Matthew 2: 1-12 (above) is one you have likely heard many times. Is there anything new you perceived from reading it as part of this sermon message?
- Why is it important to have the ability to receive things from other humans in order to be prepared to receive things from God?
- What did Pastor Stephen mean when he said, “Your perception determines your direction”? Give an example of where your perceptions have been influenced by secular institutions or individuals. Do you have an example of where a heavenly perception enabled you to “see” something others did not “see”?
- Are you able to put into words where you perceive God is guiding you right now in life?
Just as Jesus is placed at the center of the traditional Christmas manger scene, so too should you place Him at the center of your life. You will have peace and happiness when you place Jesus at the center of your marriage, your job, and in the use of all your resources.
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Pastor Stephen Hayes
December 15, 2019
Main Idea – Just as Jesus is placed at the center of the traditional Christmas manger scene, so too should you place Him at the center of your life. You will have peace and happiness when you place Jesus at the center of your marriage, your job, and in the use of all your resources.
Project an image of Jesus
- It is normal for a person to think about his or her appearance. Many people spend much time and money on their external images.
- The Bible tells us not to worship external appearances. 1 Corinthians 5:16-17 – Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (NKJV)
- Rather than working to project an image you have created, let God express Himself through you.
- An image of Jesus, projected through you, is the most meaningful of anything.
- The book Science Speaks by Peter W. Stoner and Robert C. Newman calculated the statistical probability that any one random person could fulfill all the 300 Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. The chance was beyond comprehension – it couldn’t happen. Yet, Jesus did fulfill each one of them.
- Jesus’ arrival on earth in human form was a momentous event. Luke 2:10-14 – Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
You are God’s image
- God created you in His image. That means He intends to do His work through you. He intends to project Himself through you.
- Genesis 1:26 – Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (NKJV)
- Romans 8:29 – For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (NKJV)
- Jesus promised that the power of God that is in Him can also be in you. That power comes through the Holy Spirit. John 16:7 – Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. (NKJV)
- When we are doing God’s work, it is the group effort of the Body of Christ that stands out; not one or two individuals. This requires that the Body works to stay united, and not divided into factions. It also necessitates that individuals do not seek to stand out from the group.
- Projecting God’s image to others is a sequential process that takes time. It rarely happens all at once. 2 Corinthians 3:18 – But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (NASB)
Jesus at the center
- The first live Christmas manger scene is said to have been arranged by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1223, to encourage people to better relate to Jesus as a human, and to worship Him.
- In that first manger scene – and with most every manger scene since – the figure of Jesus is at the center of the scene; not off to one side as a peripheral character.
- In the same way, you should place Jesus at the center of your life.
- It is easy to unintentionally place other things at the center of your life: spouse, other relationships, pets, money, time, etc.
- If you place God at the center of your life, the other things that are important to you will also prosper. If God can answer your spiritual needs, He can – and will – easily provide for the other significant areas of your life. Matthew 6: 33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Determine if Jesus is at the center in your life
- Take an accounting of your life. What are the things you think about the most? What are the activities on which you spend the most time? On what do you spend the most money?
- Jesus was here from before time began. He knew you before time began. How could one think to place any temporal thing in a place of greater importance?
- Colossians 1: 15-17 – He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (NKJV)
- John 1:1-5 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Three steps to putting Jesus at the center of your life
- Invite Him to take His place at the center of your life. That is the place He desires. Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (NKJV)
- Involve Him in every area of your life.
- Ignite a fresh passion to know Him more. There is always more and more to learn about Jesus and your relationship with Him. As you continue to learn more about Him you will become a better and better person.
Your best image
- Your best image is the one where God is reflected through you.
- When you put Jesus at the center of your life, God’s image will begin to show through you.
- A believer’s real identity is reflected through how his or her life is lived. When Jesus is at the center, others will see God through the individual’s life.
Reflective Questions for The Gift That Keeps on Giving
- Pastor Stephen suggested you ask yourself three questions: What do you think the most about? On what do you spend most of your time? On what do you spend most of your money? What is your evaluation of your answers to those questions?
- If you were to invite Jesus into the central position in your life what – if any - preparations for His arrival do you first need to make?
- What does it mean to “involve” Jesus with your finances? Your relationships? Your time?
- How can one light the spark that will “ignite a fresh passion to know Jesus more”?
The Bible teaches that God wants to make a deal with you. If you are faithful to return a tithe of your increase to Him, God will bless you with the far greater gifts of elevation, possession, and dominion.
The Royal Exchange
Pastor Mike Hayes
December 1, 2019
Main Idea – The Bible teaches that God wants to make a deal with you. If you are faithful to return a tithe of your increase to Him, God will bless you with the far greater gifts of elevation, possession, and dominion.
God will give you more in exchange for your lesser gift
- God will always give you more than you will give Him.
- However, He is still impacted by your willing, faithful gifts. He is interested in engaging in a transaction with you.
- Isaiah 61:3 – To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
- The Bible teaches that - from the beginning of creation - God has provided the framework for how your transactions with Him will take place.
- The Bible teaches that the tithe – the first ten percent of your increase – is the fundamental building block of your transactions with God.
Be obedient to God’s process
- Offerings are sacrificial in nature. They are deliberate; not casual.
- One of the first stories in the Bible tells of two brothers: one who gave an appropriate offering, and one whose offering was improper.
- Genesis 4: 3-7 – And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
- Both Cain and Able had learned about proper offerings, likely from their parents Adam and Eve. God’s stern reaction to Cain’s offering happened because Cain had become casual – and therefore disobedient – to the rules of God’s exchange.
- From the moment Adam and Eve fell into sin (Genesis 3) God determined that the road to reconciliation would come through the shedding of innocent blood. Therefore, in the Old Testament, God required animal sacrifices for the sin offerings. (God even performed his own animal sacrifice to provide clothing for Adam and Eve. Genesis 4:21 – Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.)
The Blessing of Abraham
- Unlike Cain, Abraham was happily obedient to a righteous transaction. He, therefore, received in return three significant blessings from God.
- Genesis 14: 18-20 – Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.
- Like Abraham, when you tithe you are showing honor to God. Then, in return, God will bless you even more.
That same Abrahamic blessing is available to you today
- The blessing Abraham received of elevation, possession, and dominion is available to you.
- Galatians 3: 13-14 – Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
A New Testament example of one who was unwilling to give a meaningful sacrifice
- Luke 18: 18-30 – Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
- The ruler in the above verses was owned by his money. Money had become his real God, and he was unable to let go of its pursuits. Jesus knew that and, therefore, required of him a sacrifice that would actually free him from that form of slavery. But, the man was unwilling to make that commitment.
- The above verses end with the promise that when you give an appropriate offering (or sacrifice) God will pay you back many times more in blessings for your life.
A New Testament example of one who was willing to give a meaningful sacrifice
- Luke 19: 1-9 – Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
- One will notice in the above verses that Jesus did not ask Zacchaeus for any kind of sacrifice. Rather, Zacchaeus willingly gave a righteous offering.
- From being around Jesus, Zacchaeus was moved by grace.
- The more you allow God’s grace in your life, the more generous you will become. People who know grace realize there is an endless abundance of blessings – more blessings than can be equaled by any earthly sacrifice.
- One who understands grace just naturally wants to participate in this royal exchange with God.
The Royal Exchange and the local church
- Always express your thankfulness to God when you are blessed. He doesn’t need your thankfulness, but He appreciates it when you express it to Him. Luke 17: 15-19 – And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
- If we are all regularly returning the tithe to God there should be no need for special offerings. The Apostle Paul knew he didn’t have time to raise special offerings in all his churches; so, he taught the transactional principle of setting aside the first portion of each person’s increase for the Kingdom work. 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 – Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.
- Christians return their tithes to God through the local church. Then, God richly blesses their lives so they themselves – as well as the church - will have an abundance from which to go and bless others. 2 Corinthians 9:8 – And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
Reflective Questions for The Royal Exchange
- From the Bible verses in this lesson, can you describe the attributes of an appropriate tithe offering to God?
- How, if at all, do you relate to the character Zacchaeus in Luke 19 (above)?
- Perhaps most new Christians find it difficult to commit to a regular tithing schedule. Why is that? While visiting with those who don’t tithe, why may it be productive to be sympathetic to their reasons while focusing on God’s promises?