Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. I’m happy to see you all this morning. You can go ahead and be turning your Bible to Leviticus. Chapter twenty three. For those that don’t know me, my name is Mike and I serve here on staff with the small groups here in the church. And if you’re… See more
Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. I’m happy to see you all this morning. You can go ahead and be turning your Bible to Leviticus. Chapter twenty three. For those that don’t know me, my name is Mike and I serve here on staff with the small groups here in the church. And if you’re visiting this morning, again, we’re so happy that you decided to spend your Sunday morning with us.
If you haven’t been with us the last couple of weeks, it’s all good. I can catch you up. We’ve been in a sermon series called The Feasts and Joe did such an incredible job kicking off our talk on the feast a couple of weeks ago. And his talk was on Passover. And one of the big takeaways we learned from Joe’s talk on Passover is that the Passover lamb that was slaughtered back in Exodus to save the people from God’s wrath symbolically represented Jesus in his willingness to allow himself to be sacrificed so that we could be saved on God’s wrath as well.
It was such an incredible sermon. So if you didn’t get a chance to catch that, you still can you can go ahead and go to our Broward church YouTube page and you can go ahead while you’re there. Subscribe just a little plug there while you’re at it and go ahead and get caught up if you want to get caught up as well. Today, I am super, super excited because I get a chance to take a crack at part two of this sermon series on the feast.
And part two of this series is going to be focused on the festival, the third festival, and that is the first fruits festival. And I’ll just tell you right up top, you’re going to see this first fruits festival, the theme is going to be all about generosity.
Because like the Israelites so many years ago needed to know this, we still need to be reminded of the call to be generous. We all need to be reminded of the need to give some of what we have away, because if we’re not reminded of we don’t give some of what we have away we’ll probably fall for the constant pursuit of trying to get more.
Thomas Fuller puts it this way If your desires be endless, your cares and your fears will be so too. If your life is about wanting more than your whole life will be filled with a perpetual fear and a perpetual care for more. And that desire for more will always leave you wanting as a never ending cycle. Another way to put it is that you will feel like enough is never really enough. You know, a rapper once said more money, more problems.
Someone in the back say preach. You know, jokes aside, crazy enough, some studies indicate that as a nation’s wealth goes up, its happiness goes down. And I believe this to be true, definitely true of America. One of the richest countries in get our contentment level is at an all time low. Why is that? Could it be that we have ignored the time tested observation from Jesus where he said it is more blessed to give than it is to receive?
You see, as a nation, we have ignored the antidote from Jesus for our greed a thousand times over, and now we’re suffering as a result. The good news is that we don’t have to continue to suffer amen? The first fruits festival, we’re going to look at today shows us that just like God trained his people back then to not want more by commanding them to give more is the same God that can train us today, during the first fruits festival, God led his people to a better freer way to live by commanding them to practice generosity and the same God that called them to generosity, the same God that can call us to generosity today as well.
So we’re going to take a closer look at generosity. So go ahead turn in your bibles to leviticus chapter twenty three. And we are going to read start at verse nine. We’re going to read to verse 14. It says the Lord said to Moses, speak to the Israelites and say to them, when you enter the land, I’m going to give you and you reap this harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.
He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf. The priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice a burnt offering to the Lord, a lamb a year old without effect, together with this grain offering of ten tenths, two tenths of an ephah and the finest flour mixed with olive oil, a food offering present it to the Lord, a pleasing aroma and a drink offering of a quarter of a hand of wine.
You must not eat any bread or roasted or new grain until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come wherever you live. I know it’s a lot there, but in this passage we see God giving Moses the instructions that they needed to know as well as pass on to the people regarding the first fruits festival. And real quick, one of the things that I learned outside of this text, the Hebrew name for the first fruits festival is I don’t even know how to pronounce it well, but I’m going to give it a shot.
Reshit Ketzivchem, which which means the fruit of your harvests and is also known as the Feast of Ohmar. It is also known as the Feast of the Waved Sheaf. And now back to Leviticus and all the instructions. We learned from Moses and Leviticus is that the first fruits festival was celebrated after the Passover. Joe talked about that a couple of weeks ago and after the Passover, as participating in this festival, Israel was required to offer the very first sheaf of their barley harvest to the priest.
We don’t know what a sheaf is. Looks kind of like that. Like barley harvest-y. And you can tell I relied on Google a lot for this sermon. But anyways, this is what they were to bring to to to the priest. And then they could not eat of the harvest until they they offered the first of this to the priest. And and once they offered this the sheaf to the priest, the priest would wave the sheaf in the air as a as a symbol, as a symbol and an offering to God.
And after the priest waved the sheaf, the people would would also be required to offer a male lamb without defect or blemish kind of speaks to what Joe talked about on Passover. And then and even with all these instructions, it’s pretty clear. But but even though the instructions were clear, being required to offer the first from the harvest, I would imagine wasn’t an easy decision at all. And I think it wasn’t an easy decision for the Israelites because their livelihood could be at stake.
And what I mean by their livelihood being at stake is that they could be risking food from their mouths and also from their families mouths because they didn’t know for sure that once they offered their first fruits that it was going to be a guarantee that the rest of the harvest is going to come. They had absolutely no certainty. And to add to the pressure, the reality is that the weather could affect whether the harvest was going to come in or not because the weather was super unpredictable.
They could have too little rain, too much rain, not enough sun. And there were things outside of the weather that were outside of their control, like pestilence and disease. So that could also stop the rest of the harvest from coming in. So in giving their first fruits israel had no idea what the outcome was going to be. They didn’t know what the next couple of months would bring, nor did they know what the rest of the year was going to bring.
And yet all that, despite the risk, God’s people still gave their first fruits because they remembered what happened back in Exodus. They remembered the God who saved them from Egypt. They remembered the God who who who chose them to be a special nation. They remembered the God who’s bringing them into the promised land. So to them, what’s risking a grain of sheaf in comparison to what God has already given them? You see, what propelled them to give was the fact that they remembered the God who gave to them first, they were compelled to give out of their gratitude.
And even though they were grateful, I’m sure it still was a test of their faith because essentially. Israel gave the first of their harvest trusting that God would provide for the rest of the harvest. They gave the first of their harvest trusting that God would provide for the rest of the harvest. They firmly believe that just as God provided the first of the barley grain that he was going to bless and bring forth the full barley grain. So in giving the very first of the produce to God, Israel learned to not hoard more, but to give and to trust God more.
I often wonder why did God make a big celebration out of giving and what I realized is that the giving was supposed to be a time of them celebrating the God who gave to them first, but also the God who gave his grace, the God who offered his provision. So that made the connection for me. But even in saying all of this, I know it’s a lot of details here. I just I understand that in describing this festival, some of us may still find it hard to connect to this festival.
Because the closest thing that some of us have to bringing in the harvest is asking the kids to help get the groceries from the back of the car. And even then, that’s not always a moment of joy. Sometimes as a moment of come on, just have a good attitude, kid, or why did you come get the groceries the first time I asked? I’m not a parent, but I see some of the parents are laughing because they get it.
I mean, it’s hard it’s hard for us to connect to this festival because life as we know it has become so easy for us. We don’t have to worry about bringing in raw ingredients like barley and wheat and stuff like that. What we worry about is making sure the Cocoa Puffs don’t get left in the car or whatever, you know. It’s obvious that we are worlds apart from this agrarian culture, but even though we are worlds apart from this culture, there is a standard of giving that we can learn from this culture and that standard of giving is give on God’s terms, trusting that God will give on his terms, give on God’s terms, trusting that God will give on his terms, and that’s really my main thought. If you missed anything from this sermon. Don’t miss this. This is my main thought. Like the Israelites back then, they gave on God’s terms trusting that God will give on his terms. They gave the first of their harvest, trusting that God will provide the rest of their harvest.
And for us today, we can do this. But what does that mean? What does it mean to give on Gods terms? What does it mean to trust that God is going to give on his terms? Before we answer that question, I need to address two things. The first thing is we need to keep in mind that when God gives to us on his terms, the gifts are never supposed to be or become more important than the giver.
God is not some Santa Claus that is only relevant when he gives out gifts, God does not exist to just give us what we want as long as we’re good enough to deserve it. That behavior my friends is called using God, not loving him. I’m bringing this up because I’m really concerned with how the message of Christ has, unfortunately in some churches become a message of prosperity. The message of health, wealth and convenience have become the main attraction in the church rather than God being the main attraction in the church.
And so as we talk about giving on God’s terms and trusting that God will give his terms, we got to understand that in this life, the greatest gift we could ever receive is God and not the gifts given by God. Don’t get me wrong, God’s gifts are good, so we should enjoy them. But the giver is so much better, so we should enjoy him even more, amen? That’s the first thing I wanted to bring up.
The second thing I want to bring up is it’s really important for us to understand that we are called to give to God and to receive from God on his terms, on his terms alone. Here’s what I’m saying. We should never assume how we want to give us how God wants us to give. We should not think that our standard of giving matches, God’s standard of giving. We should not think our terms of giving equals God’s terms of giving.
It’s important that we capture this because God will not allow us to put words in his mouth when it comes to how we are to give to him and when it comes to how we are to receive from him, God makes it clear how he wants us to give and how he wants us to receive. It’s important that I bring this up because we can expect God to give a certain way in which God never claimed a promise he would give that way to begin with.
I’m not just talking down at you right now because I struggle a lot with this, too. There are many things that I expect from God and one of the things I expected that’s closest to my heart is expecting the perfect parents when I when I was growing up. If you know anything about my story and the you know that my parents were far from perfect. My parents at different points in my life, they were addicted to hard drugs. And because their addiction was so bad, there are many times my family and I were evicted from our apartment and we were homeless.
There are times when my family members took us in. There are times when my friends took us in. There were times of family or friends couldn’t take us in. So we had to live in homeless shelters. And often times I found myself being extremely angry at my parents and extremely sad at the same time. And a lot of times I often wondered if God is so powerful, why would he allow them to be addicted to drugs? And what I realized, looking back, is that the expectation that I had of God is that he should not allow this to happen.
I expected God to give me faultless parents. But God never promised me from his word that I would have faultless parents. Looking back, I understand I understand now how entitled I was, how I wanted God to give to me the way I thought he should give to me. You know, the beautiful thing about my story is that even though I couldn’t rush God, I couldn’t force God’s hand to move in a way he never promised. God was still gracious enough to help my parents overcome their drug abuse.
They’ve been clean for years that and I praise God for it, and that’s actually the reason why I became a Christian. That’s one of the main reasons I became a Christian. But the reality is that not a lot of us have that story. Some of us are probably still waiting on God to give us something that he never expected that that he never promised that he would give. Some of you here today are like me you’re expecting or you feel like God owes you something.
Whether it’s the American dream, is good health, good spouse. Big house, cute fence, nice dog, whatever it is, the reality is that. Just to sum up everything I just said. God is greater than the gifts he gives to us. God will give on his own terms and God expects us to give on his terms. So I got that off my chest, I think I think we’re ready to explore from the scriptures for the next couple of minutes what it looks like to give on God’s terms, trusting that God will give on his terms.
So as we go through the scriptures, I’m not going to give much commentary on them. I’m just going to mainly identify one, what we are expected to give on God’s terms and then to what we can expect God to give on his terms. I won’t really go too deep into it. So, Matthew, chapter six, verse thirty three. It says, but seek first His Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.
So in this passage we have Jesus speaking and in this verse, from what I see, Jesus has an expectation on how we are to give to him. And we can have an expectation from God on how he chooses to give once we give first. So here’s what I see in this passage. We see Jesus calling the people then, and he’s calling us now to give our lives to the kingdom first, which is giving on his terms. And I see once we give on his terms that we can trust that God will give us what we need on his terms later.
So here’s what I see. Give your life to the kingdom first, trusting that God will give you what you need later. I want to do another example, let’s go to Mark, chapter one, verse 17, it says, Come follow me, Jesus said, and I will send you out to fish for peopl. Again we see Jesus speaking in this passage. And again, Jesus has an expectation for how we are to give or how we are to come and what we can expect from him once we give.
So here’s what I see in this passage. We see Jesus calling us to give our lives to following Jesus, which is giving on his terms. And I see once we give on his terms that we are called to trust that he will change us as we follow. Here’s a thought, give our life to following Jesus, trusting that we will change because of Jesus. The early disciples, they were excited to to drop their nets and follow Jesus because they had this rabbi, had this teacher has given them a vision of what their life could look like, Jesus is saying, fishermen to fishermen, that means I’m going to change when I follow. That’s exciting. That was for them, but it’s also for us today. Our lives are supposed to change from one degree of glory to the next as we continue to follow Jesus. One more. Second Corinthians, chapter nine, verse six through eight, it says. Remember this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap Sparingly. Whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver and God is able to bless you abundantly.
So That in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. So in this passage, we have Paul, one of the apostles, speaking to the church in Corinth about financial giving, and again, we see that God has an expectation for how we are to give and we can expect from him once and what we can expect from him once we give. So we see God calling us. His terms are not reluctantly, not under compulsion, but cheerful. That’s the terms he wants us to give cheerfully, and once we decide to give cheers cheerfully, it also says that he’s able to bless us abundantly. Here’s the thought, give out money cheerfully trusting that God will bless us abundantly. Granted, we don’t know how God is going to defined abundantly. But one thing we can be sure of, and I’ve heard say one of the elders here in our church say this a couple of times, we have yet to outgive God.
So we decide to give God is already, like, excited to give back. So when we decide to givde to Gods cause or we decide to give to the church or whatever, we got to realize that God has been giving long before you and I even decided to give. We have yet to outgive God, and we never will. There are so many examples from scriptures that I can show you to reiterate that we are called to give on God’s terms, trusting that he will give on his terms.
But I won’t do that. I won’t bore you. However, I do have a PowerPoint slide. And on that PowerPoint slide, it’ll just be some other passages that speak to this idea that I’m communicating give on God’s terms trusting that he will give on his terms. And I’ll put the slide up and you can just take a picture and you can study it out on your own. But here are a few that I saw. Matthew, chapter twenty-eight verse 16 to 20, give your life to his mission, trusting that God will be with you in his mission.
Proverbs 11. Twenty five give your life to refreshing others, trusting that God refresh you like the others. Luke six thirty eight give trusting that it will be given to you. Proverbs 19 17. Give to the poor. Trusting that God will reward you. And so I will provide all these examples just to say that it’s clear. Giving on God’s terms, trusting that God will give on his terms, is not just a first fruits idea. It’s a biblical idea.
This idea is found all throughout the Bible. And another idea or another figure in our faith that I think would add to our pursuit of generosity obviously is Jesus. I want to show you an illustration that speaks to how I think Jesus can motivate us to pursue generosity. Here’s an illustration, I don’t know if you guys remember this game growing up, but this game, the purpose of this game is to find the hidden object in the pitcher. So as you can see, the picture is filled with raspberries, right?
But obviously, the raspberries aren’t the hidden object, can you guys find the hidden object object? Can you guys see it? All right. The hidden object is strawberry.
It might be hard to see, but you get the heart of the illustration. All right. There’s a strawberry hidden among the raspberries. And the point the point that I’m making is that like the hidden strawberry in the picture, Jesus is hidden in plain sight all throughout the festivals. Jesus is symbolically represented in the first fruits festival. Here are some ways that he’s represented. First fruits happened the day after Passover, Leviticus 23 11, and Jesus resurrected the day after Passover.
Matthew twenty seven. Twenty eight. Jesus is also represented the first fruit festival because God provided the first fruits of the harvest, Deuteronomy twenty six nine through ten and God provided Jesus the first fruits from among the dead, first Corinthians 15 20. And so I say all that to say for us today what moves us to give on God’s terms, trusting that God will give on his terms is those scriptures that I share, but also Jesus Christ. Here’s the here’s the thought God was so generous to us.
God was so good to us that he sent his son Jesus to die a death that he did not deserve. So that all of us could live a life we do not deserve. And not only does his death move us, but his resurrection moves us as well. God is so generous to us that he promises us if we remain him, jesus’s resurrection guarantees our resurrection. Do you believe that? Since Jesus resurrected as a first fruits, we have the promise that one day we will resurrect like Jesus as a first fruit into a body that never dies.
This propels us to give. Jesus propels us to give our time, our money, the best of our resources. We have a God who gave us his very best through his son, Jesus on the cross. But not only did Jesus stay on the cross and die, but he resurrected from the grave. Jesus is our first fruits, and we, like Jesus, can resurrect like a first fruit as well. Let’s pray for communion. Heavenly Father, thank you so much for this opportunity to be able to look at your word and see how you call us to give on your terms, how you allow us to be a part of the process.
Thank you for providing the illustration in the Old Testament where the people were called to give their first fruits. And now we are called to give our first fruits. We are called to give our lives. God I pray that what motivates us is how you gave to us first, but but also pray what motivates us is is is Jesus and. And how. He died for us, but he also rose from the grave for us, so now we have a we have an opportunity to live the life that allows us to be free, that allows us to give as well.
God for you. Give us that heart. Give us that motivation. Give us that desire to give the way you give. I love you so much. And in Jesus name, I pray. Amen