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Prioritize Me and Multiply, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
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December 7, 2020 9:00 am

Prioritize Me and Multiply, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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December 7, 2020 9:00 am

Pastor J.D. asks a few important diagnostic questions to determine your value systems and priorities. Are you more like Lot who valued his own self interests? Or are you more like Abraham who prioritized generosity?

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. What do you spend your first and your best on? Is it your mortgage?

Is it your savings? Is it your lifestyle? Because whatever you give your first and your best to is what you worship. It shows what is paradise.

It shows what is God in your life. Welcome to Summit Life with author and pastor J.D. Greer. I'm Molly Midovitch. OK, it's time for a checkup.

You ready? Today, Pastor J.D. asks a few important diagnostic questions to determine your value systems and priorities.

So are you more like Lot who valued his own self-interests or are you more like Abraham who prioritized generosity? An important distinction to be aware of today. And remember, if you miss any of the messages in this teaching series, you can find them all online at J.D.

Greer dot com. Let's join Pastor J.D. in Genesis Chapter 13. So Abel makes an offering of his animals to God and Cain makes an offering of the harvest to God. And God rejects Cain's offering and accepts Abel's.

It's going to make Cain so mad that he kills Abel. Question we ought to ask is, what was it about Cain's offering that God rejected? And if you go through the chapter Genesis four and look very carefully, you're only going to find one distinction that is given about the two offerings.

The distinction is it says this. Genesis four, Abel gave to God the firstborn of his flock. What that means is that the very first lambs that were born to his flock got able to offer those up to God and said, God, these belong to you. Now, if you've been watching, you might have said, Abel, how do you know they're going to have more sheep?

How do you know that's not the last of them? But if you give that to God, then there's nothing left to take care of you. Abel would have said, well, I'm going to leave God with that. I'm going to trust God.

He's going to get the first and the best, and I'll trust him to give me what I need afterwards. Cain, by contrast, it says in Genesis four that he waited until the entire harvest was in. And when the entire harvest was in and he saw everything that he'd been given, then he made his offering to God. It never says that his offering was smaller. It never said that he just threw a little tip to God. All it says is that he gave to God last. Abel gave to God first. Cain is what we would call around here a December giver.

He waits until the end of the year to see, to make sure he's got everything that he's going to need. And then he's like, God, I'm going to give to you out of the excess of what I can spare. God is pleased with Abel's offering and he rejects Cain's.

Here's my question for you. What is your approach, which represents your approach to giving? Because see, whatever you give your first and best to, whatever you give your first and best to reveals what is God in your life. Whatever you give your first and best to reveals what's God in your life. A friend of mine says it this way, everybody, everybody tithes to something. Everybody gives their first and their best to something. And what you give your first and your best to shows, it reveals what you treasure most in your life.

If you give the first and the best of your paycheck to improving your lifestyle, then that shows that what you deem most important in life to be comfort or status. Did you notice in verse 10 that Lot described the Jordan Valley like the garden of the Lord? Remember I pointed that out to you? It's like the Garden of Eden. That's what he saw. There's a reason that the writer describes it.

There's a reason Lot thinks of it that way. You see what he saw, listen to this, had a spiritual dimension to him. He thought, this is paradise. The riches of the Jordan Valley equal paradise. If I have that, then I'll be in paradise.

So naturally it came first in his decisions. Abraham, by contrast, thought of God's presence as paradise. Abraham said, God, wherever you are, that's paradise. And I'd rather be in the desert with you because that's paradise because to be in the riches without you would be hell. So I'm going to prioritize you above anything and I'm going to say, I'll just go where you are because that's paradise to me. What you give your first and your best to shows what you think of as paradise, what you treasure most. What you give your first and best to shows what you trust most in your life. If the first thing you do with your paycheck is save from it, if you give your first and your best to savings, that's because money is what you trust.

You think that you are responsible to secure your future. Abel could give the first of the flock to God, even though he didn't know what was going to come afterwards because he trusted God to provide more flock. Abraham could be generous with the land because he trusted God was going to provide him with the land that God wanted him to have. I heard about a pastor who, there was a couple in his church who were having trouble with this concept of giving God the first and the best. And like pastor, we just don't see how we're going to, we feel like our budget is so tight, we're not going to be able to make ends meet. And the pastor said this, he said, I'll tell you what, why don't you write a check out for what you think represents your first and your best to God. Write that check out, give it to me. And I'm going to take it and I'm going to put it in my desk drawer and I'm going to wait to the end of the month.

I won't cash it until the very end of the month. And if at the end of the month, you don't have enough money to pay your bills and meet your needs, I will take the check back out and I will give it to you. Does that sound reasonable? And the couple kind of looked at each other and said, yeah, that sounds reasonable.

We think we can do that. And then the pastor said, shame on you because you trust me, your pastor, more than you trust God, because that's what God said that he would do. You give your first and best to me and I'll make sure that you are taken care of. You see, I know that for many of us, the reason that you're not generous is not that you're stingy, you're fearful. That's what keeps you from doing it, you're fearful.

God is not your trust. Whatever you give your first and your best to reveals what is God in your life. Scripture says that money competes with God in one of two ways in our lives, depending on our personality, depending on our personality. Now, for some of you, money is your significance.

It's how you enjoy life. If you've got the right clothes, if you live in the right place, if you take the right vacations, drive the right cars, money is significance to you. So whenever you get an extra $1,000 in your paycheck, the first thing you're thinking of, what is this going to buy? Is this going to new flat screen TV?

Is it new drapes for the house? Can we take a vacation or whatever? That's what you think of money as. There's another group of you who are not like that. For you, money is security. So whenever you get an extra $1,000, you're like, well, that just goes into the rainy day fund so that we can be more secure for the future. So for some of you, money is significance. For some of you, money is security. In God's sense of humor, I've explained to you, those two kinds of people always get married.

You always marry somebody who's the opposite. And both of you think the other person has a problem with money. When you get the extra $1,000, you're like, what is wrong with you?

You tightwad. We need a TV. Why can't we spend it? And the other one is thinking, what is wrong with you, you irresponsible middle school student? We need to save that junk, right? And you both think the other one has a problem with money and the irony is you've got the same problem with money.

It's just coming at it from a different direction. For both of you, money plays the role that God is supposed to play in your life. God is supposed to be your primary source of significance. God should be your primary source of trust. And when God is your significance and when God is your security, then you can be freed up to be generous.

So let me say it again. Everybody tithes to something. Everybody tithes to something. Everybody gives their first and their best to something.

What is that for you? And by the way, don't get hung up on the 10%. That's what tithe means, 10%. But the way we're supposed to think of it is first and best.

First and best means something is first priority for us, the largest part of our budget. Let me tell you why I make that distinction. Because for many years, tithing for me was just a line item that came out of my budget. It was like the God tax. I paid God his tax and then I paid Uncle Sam his tax, and then I had the rest and it was just for me. But doing that didn't really affect anything in my life. It was not really my first and my best because it did not affect any of my spending after that.

I know that God has convicted me. He wants me to give in a way that shows that He is my first and my best. What do you spend your first and your best on? Is it your mortgage?

Is it your savings? Is it your lifestyle? Because whatever you give your first and your best to is what you worship. It shows what is paradise. It shows what is God in your life. Here's the third question.

Let her see. Do you think of yourself as an owner or a steward of your blessings? Do you think of yourself as an owner or just as a steward of your blessings? God had told Abraham that He was going to bless him to be a blessing. So, naturally, when Abraham received any blessing, the first question he asked is, how is this going to bless somebody else? So even when it came time to choose where to live, what land to live in, he's going to give the first and the best choice of the land to Lot. Lot, of course, was the opposite. Lot thought about himself first. He thought about himself most. Lot is the first American in the Bible. His philosophy of life is get all you can, can all you get, and then sit on your can. That's kind of what he's going to do.

He's going to go through this. Again, which one better represents you? Would we describe you more as a channel of blessing or a reservoir of blessing? Because, listen, according to Scripture, God blessed us. He blessed you. He blessed me, not just so we could enrich our lives. He blessed us so that through us, He could bless others. So the verse we've gone in and out of now for several weeks, 2 Corinthians 9, 10, the apostle Paul says, you will be enriched in every way.

That's an exciting promise. You'll be enriched in every way to be generous in every way. Why does God enrich us?

Not just to increase our standard of living. He enriches us to increase our standard of giving. What that means is that if you don't give generously, listen, this is kind of a bold statement, but I think it's exactly what 2 Corinthians is saying. What it means is if you don't give generously, you're actually stealing because you're embezzling God's money. Imagine how angry you would be if you made a large donation, several large donations to feed the children. And after making several large donations to feed the children, you found out that 90% of all the money that was donated to feed the children went to the CEO, not to actually feed the children.

You would be outraged, and you would be right to be outraged because that guy or that woman was stealing what was not intended for them. According to 2 Corinthians, that's exactly what each of us is to God. Every individual in the church, everyone who is a Christian is kind of their own nonprofit ministry. And according to 2 Corinthians, God has made donations to you because he wants you to use them for his mission.

If we sit on them or use them for our own luxuries alone, then we are embezzling money. God blesses us to increase our capacity for generosity. That is entirely what 2 Corinthians is saying. Some at church, we also have to ask that corporately as a church body. Why has God blessed us as a church body?

Why did he do it? He did it for one reason, one reason, and that is to bless the triangle and the world with the gospel through us. What does lot style self-centeredness look for us?

It would be to not posture ourselves to grow. It would be to say what kind of a comfortable church should we have for ourselves and let's just figure out how to have the thing that we want as opposed to saying how can we bless more people in the triangle with the gospel? And what we have figured out, and we've figured this out now for a decade, is that our ability to reach people for the gospel is directly tied to our ability to seat people at peak hours when people typically would come visit a church and hear the gospel. Peak hours are going to be your Sunday morning hours, and at several of our campus, we are past capacity.

We can't fit any more people that are sitting down in the lobbies. Y'all, the end of this whole story is that God multiplies Abraham beyond his wildest dreams. And Abraham's story is going to illustrate something that we call kingdom economics, something that so few people in the kingdom of God actually understand.

Here it is. Whatever you prioritize before God, you're going to lose. But what you give God the first and the best of, He multiplies for eternal significance. Let me break that down for you. Whatever you prioritize before God, you lose. You see that with a lot, don't you? You prioritize riches.

You lost them all. C.S. Lewis had a great way of saying this.

Now, it's C.S. Lewis, so it'll hurt your mind a little bit, so just hang with me. He says this. He says, in life, there are first things, God, and there are second things, everything else.

Here, listen. When you put first things first, when you put God first, He throws in second things abundantly. But when you put second things first, you lose not only first things, your relationship with God, you also lose the second things.

Does that make you dizzy a little bit? Say it one more time. There are two things in life, first things, second things. First things, God, second things, everything else. When you put first things first, when you put God first, He throws in second things, everything else abundantly. But when you put second things first, you lose not only your relationship with God, the first thing, you also are going to lose the second thing.

And if you're like, it still makes my mind hurt, just think about Lot. Because what Lot does is he prioritizes the Jordan Valley, and so it's there, and it's all destroyed in front of him. You know, the number one contributor to divorce is not infidelity. The number one contributor to divorce is money issues, and couples have money issues because they prioritize money above God and above family. Ironically, when you put money first, you even lose your capacity to enjoy the blessings of money. This is maybe one of the greatest ironies.

A little verse, Ecclesiastes 5, it's one of my favorites in the book, Ecclesiastes 5, 10. He who loves money will never be satisfied with money. The one who loves money is never going to be satisfied with it. You know, they say, some older people have told me that one of the afflictions they have dealt with in growing older is, I know some who say they've lost their taste capacity. They can't taste the distinctions of food.

Maybe you know somebody like this. They say, I could buy the most expensive meal in the most expensive restaurant, and I might as well be eating a loaf of Spam because it just tastes the same to me. What happens when you prioritize money and you treasure money is you lose your capacity to even be able to enjoy it. But when you put God first, he multiplies you like he did Abraham. God increases what Abraham had, and he blessed the world in the process. Here's how the writer of Proverbs will explain it, Proverbs 3, 9, and 10. Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first.

You see this? Honor the Lord from the first like Abel did of all your produce. And then, and then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine or grape juice for you, Baptist.

All right, so how do your vats overflow? Is it because you invest properly? Not according to that verse.

Investing is great. Scripture encourages it because you save, and that's great too. Scripture encourages that. According to that verse, it's by giving God the first and the best of whatever he gives to you because whatever you give to God, he multiplies.

Y'all told me you see this all over the Bible. The little boy with the five loaves and the two fish gives it to Jesus, and Jesus takes it, and he feeds 5,000 hungry men with it. The part of the story we always overlook is that that little boy went home with 12 baskets full, right?

I mean, imagine that boy walking back into his house. He left that morning with a Jewish version of a Lunchable. He showed back home with the entire Golden Corral buffet and says, Mom, look what I got. Here's my five loaves and two fish.

Or here's another story that people don't know nearly as well. Elijah the prophet, in the middle of a famine in Israel, goes and stays with this widow and her son, her grown son, and they have such a famine. They have just enough flour in the canister and just enough oil that they can make one cake. And Elijah, the prophet of God, says to the woman, what are you going to do with that oil and that flour? She says, her exact words, I'm going to make a cake.

My son and I are going to split it, and then we're going to starve to death. And Elijah, the man of God that he is, says, make that cake and give it to me. And you're reading the story, and you're thinking, what a jerk.

How do you say to a widow, give me that cake? Elijah's not being a self-centered jerk. What Elijah's doing is he's putting her in a place where he says, God wants to know if you'll give him the first. And what happened is when she did that, God multiplied the flour so that for all the days of the famine, she never went to that canister when there wasn't something in there, and she never went down and used up all the oil.

It just kept multiplying there. What God takes, what he puts first and the best, he multiplies. My primary prayer for you in this part of your discipleship during this season is not that we get the resources that we need as a church to go forward. Oh, I trust God with that. God's going to take care of this church. He doesn't need you.

He doesn't need me. My primary concern is not that we got financial needs, and that's what we're trying to do. My primary prayer for you, some at church in this, is that you learn to give God the first and the best of your life and that you see yourselves as only stewards of what he has given to you and that you begin to offer up more and more of your life to be multiplied. That is my primary concern, and I will say this. I say it just about every time we talk about something like this, and I mean this with every fiber of my being. This is not rhetoric.

It's not spam. My primary concern is that you learn to give God the first and the best, and if you feel, if you have whatever reason, you got trust issues, a bad history, and you feel like, oh, this is just manipulation because you're trying to get money, my request to you, my request is that you give your first and your best, but you give it somewhere else. I do not want to let some past bad experience get in the way of you giving your first and best to God and for you learning to think of yourself as a steward. So if there are problems and you feel like, man, I can't really trust you or this place yet, and I feel like this is all manipulation, I understand.

Maybe you got a bad experience, and I hope that God will heal you of that over time. But let's just say that in this time, you give your first and your best. You give God the priority, and you choose to do it somewhere else. But I want you to move past the question.

This has been my prayer. I want you to move past the question. How much do I have to give? I want you to move to the question to what am I not giving and why am I not giving it? Because for years, the primary, the only question I ever asked with giving is how much do I got to give?

God, how much until you'll finally leave me alone? So I started out with 10%. I'm like, okay, God, that's the tithe. Boom, I got the tithe. And then I became a pastor, and I'm like, well, I got to, you know, maybe, you know, so I doubled it to 20%. First years we're married, we're going to give 20%. And then every time we'd be like, okay, now we got the rest that's just for us.

A kingdom disciple is somebody who sees everything that God has given to him or her as a seed to be used for multiplication in the kingdom. So the better question is what am I not giving and why am I not giving it? And by the way, there's some perfectly good answers to that. Obviously, God gives you some things that he wants you to use to bless your family and take care of your family, and he gives us richly all things to enjoy. So there are many things that you'll say, that's why I'm not giving that. But when you start asking the question, what am I not giving and why, you might discover that there are many things you prioritize over God's mission, and there are many things that you trust and depend on more than you trust and depend on God.

Two last things, and I got to land this plane. The opposite of kingdom economics is where many of us are, and that is in debt. We're unable to give. You can't move. Being in debt is not a sin, but a lot of times the reasons that we got into debt were sin. We weren't patient, we were discontent, we didn't trust God. It's a word that when I use it, some of you are going to break out in hives.

I'm going to use it anyway. Budget. I know, but budget is not just for the type A hyper plan people. A budget is something that you use to begin to think about what you're doing in life and where you're going and what it looks like to honor God and to be responsible.

Lastly, last thing I'll say is you cannot, you cannot participate in kingdom economics until you know the king. You see, there was a reason that Abraham could do all this, and it was because he trusted God. He knew that God had made him a promise and that God was going to keep that promise.

He knew that because God had showed him, remember last week, that God was going to be responsible for his side of it, and God was going to be responsible for Abraham's side of it. You and I know that God has made us a promise. Jesus Christ died to remove all the condemnation of our sin and everything that would separate us from God. And Jesus said that I will never leave you or forsake you.

In fact, I am so committed to this that even when you fail, I'll pick up where you fail and I'll finish what I started. We know that he who began a good work in us will complete it, and we know that God, who did not spare his own son for us, will also freely give us all things and take care of every need that we have. And because we trust the king, we can offer up everything in our lives to him because we trust King Jesus. Have you trusted Jesus with your whole life?

If so, are you ready to take the next step and trust him with your finances? You can obey like Abraham when you know you're loved and held secure like Abraham, and Jesus invites you to that kind of relationship if you will receive it. God wants your whole heart. He doesn't just want you to go on a mission trip for him or give him some money.

Generosity like Abraham's is a byproduct of knowing God and believing Jesus is who he says he is. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Join us each weekday at this time, and if you miss any of Pastor J.D.

's teaching, you can download the audio files and even find transcripts online at J.D., I think we can all agree that 2020 has been challenging to say the least. We've got a global pandemic, racial strife, political divisiveness, and just general uncertainty.

And those things have impacted us all in ways that we could never predict or imagine. Yeah, I'll just say, Molly, our family has not been immune to the effects of these trying times. My wife and I felt like this year has maybe been the most trying year of our lives or ministry. We felt several times that we were just going to buckle under the pressure of just trying to lead a church at a time when we're not meeting as normal. Plus, you've got homeschooling our kids, which is great in theory, but sometimes it can be a little challenging in practice.

There have been some tough talks around what's going on politically and what's going on racially in the United States. That's been a challenge to any community that's trying to walk together. And I know that we could not have made it through this year this far without the support and the encouragement of our family in Christ, our church, and folks like you. You're a very important part of our lives and ministry, and we're grateful for you.

So as we face what will likely be more challenging times in the months to come, I can tell you that if we submit to God in faith, He's going to use all of it for good to make us more like His glorious Son. And so as we close out this tempestuous 2020, I want to invite you to prayerfully consider investing in our ministries here as we continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ. We would love to have you as one of our gospel partners that enables us to be on the air in times like this, sharing the gospel with people. So if you'll go to, you can find out how you can become a part of this ministry team.

You can partner with us this December at Today and tomorrow are the last days to get Pastor JD's new evangelistic book titled Searching for Christmas. And we'd like to give you not just one, but two copies. One to keep and one to give away during this holiday season. Your financial gift is what brings gospel-centered teaching to the radio and web. And we're so grateful for your support, especially at this time of year. Ask for your copies of Searching for Christmas when you give by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or get a copy when you donate online at I'm Molly Vitovich, inviting you to join us tomorrow as we conclude this teaching series about the life of Abraham when God tests him yet again. And this time will be his most difficult test yet. We'll see you Tuesday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-15 21:14:23 / 2023-08-15 21:26:15 / 12

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