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Those Whom God Honors
Last week we looked at what it takes to have a purposeful heart in our “A Christian’s Heart” sermon series, and I ended with these words, “God honors those who honor Him.”
This is something I tell just about everyone, especially when difficult decisions need to be made. It is something that I have experienced first hand, both positively, when I followed God and His word, and negatively when I didn’t honor God in what I was doing.
We see both examples in Scripture.
Last week we used Daniel as an example. It says that Daniel purposed in His heart to follow God and His word rather than the ways of the world with all of its enticements. And because Daniel honored God, God honored Daniel.
Daniel excelled in wisdom and appearance more than everyone else in Babylon and had a more excellent spirit than all the rest. Seeing how God honored Daniel with wisdom far beyond anyone else in his government, Nebuchadnezzar promoted Daniel as the ruler over the province of Babylon.
When the Medes and Persians took over, Daniel was found the most competent in the entire realm as well, and again was made the chief ruler and administrator. And even when faced with certain death in the lions’ den, Daniel continued to honor God and His word, and as a result God shut the mouth of the lions.
At this juncture people say, “But you said, ‘God honors those who honor him,’ yet here Daniel get’s thrown in the lion’s den for honoring God. And that’s what has happened to me. I honor God yet my marriage is down the toilet, I lost my job, and I have this illness or disease. I thought you said that God honors us when we honor Him?”
Yes, God does honor us, but God never said there wouldn’t be trials, and God allows these trials and tribulations to see if we’ll still honor Him, if we’ll still obey Him when things get tough and difficult.
We see this in Joseph’s life. Even though Joseph was faithful and honored God things were going from bad to worse. Yet even through the tough years or slavery and prison, Joseph never forgot God and kept true to Him. As a result God did honor Joseph’s faith by giving him the highest ranking position in Egypt thus allowing him to help save his family, even his brothers who treated him so poorly and sold him into slavery.
On the negative side there are also plenty of examples to look at when people fail to honor God and His word. The one that stands out the most for me is that of King Saul.
God honored Saul above everyone else by making him king over Israel, but it becomes clear early on that Saul never honored God or His word. We see this in several instances
First was when Saul didn’t wait for the prophet Samuel and offered God a sacrifice, which is not in God’s job description for a king. As a result God took the kingdom away from Saul and gave it to another, and in this instance, David. And from this point Saul’s life took a downward spiral, as he was plagued by an evil spirit, often sending him in a jealous rage where he tried to take David’s life.
At the end of his life, he no longer could hear God’s voice, and so prior to a battle with the Philistines Saul went to the witch of Endor, which definitely is prohibited in God’s law. In the end both he and his son, Jonathon, were killed in battle.
And so with these examples in hand I think it’s safe to make this assessment, that God honors those who honor Him. The question now becomes,
How Do We Honor God?
The only real way we honor God is to honor and obey His word. But there are some specific ways outlined in God’s word where many of us come up short.
Before we even begin I’d like to show you what the Bible says concerning our need to honor Him in our giving and the blessings when we do.
“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything your land produces. Then He will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with the finest wine.” (Proverb 3:9-10 NLT)
When we honor God in our giving, then He will honor us by taking care of our needs. God does so through the giving of the tithe. The word “tithe” means 10 percent. We are to give 10 percent of what we make to God’s work through the local church.
Why 10 percent: I really don’t know. All I know is that God has clearly said that the minimum we should return out of all that He has given us is 10 percent.
In the last word God gave to His people the prophet Malachi addresses this subject. He said,
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse … Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house.” (Malachi 3:8-10a NKJV)
Now, there’s a very strong chance over half of you clocked out when I mentioned the subject of giving. And one of the reasons, out of several, is that the giving of the tithe doesn’t make sense.
“God owns it all, why does He need our 10%? It doesn’t make sense.”
But hang in there because this really does make sense when we talk about God honoring those who honor Him in their giving.
Look at what the Lord goes on to say.
“‘Try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10b NKJV)
What God is saying is that this principle of the tithe is really a plus instead of a minus, because God has attached His promise of blessing to it.
If we don’t tithe, however, if we disobey this principle, then not only are we going to miss out on God’s blessings, but what we’re telling God is that we don’t trust Him.
Notice something else in this verse, God said, “Try Me now in this.” We can look throughout the entire Bible and we won’t find God ever saying, “Test Me, try Me, let Me prove it to you.”
God is saying if we will take 10 percent out of everything we make and return it to the work of the Lord, then He will get supernaturally involved in our finances, and then we’ll see just how worth it is giving the tithe to honor God in our giving.
Think about that, the very being who holds the cosmos together, who created it all will get personally involved in our finances and bless us through them. If we want God to get involved with our finances, then we have to trust Him by keeping His word. Then we’re honoring Him, and that’s when God will honor us.
Remember His promise: “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything your land produces. Then He will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with the finest wine.” (Proverb 3:9-10 NLT)
Before we move on, notice one more thing that the Lord says in this passage.
“I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field.” (Malachi 3:11 NKJV)
When we continue to ignore God’s word, when we don’t honor His word in our giving, when we continue to distrust Him then, as the prophet Haggai says, we need to consider our ways, because while we may plant we’ll never harvest enough to feed ourselves, we’ll eat but still be hungry, and no matter how much clothes we put on we’ll never be warm, and everything we earn today will be gone tomorrow, Haggai 1:6.
So we need to reconsider our ways if we are not honoring God in our giving.
But if we follow God’s word, then He will rebuke the devourer of our finances and open up His windows of blessing over our lives.
And so when we honor God with our finances then He’ll honor us with His.
The second way we come up short in honoring God is
It’s important to understand that God has given each one of us specific ministries along with gifts and talents to fulfill them. The reason is so that we can effectively be the body of Christ here upon the earth, or as the Apostle Paul says, members individually making up the body of Christ, 2 Corinthians 12:27.
And while it’s important that we fulfill these callings, what I want to talk about in this section is how we come up short in honoring God with the main two callings He places upon us. These are God’s general walking papers for every Christian.
When asked what was the greatest commandment of them all, Jesus said,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38 NKJV))
This is the heart of the Jewish faith, or what’s called the “Shema,” which means to hear.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NKJV)
And so this is what Jesus quoted to the scribe’s question. But Jesus didn’t stop here, instead he added to this first commandment a second where He shows us the way in which we are to demonstrate our love for God. He said,
“And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:39 NKJV)
By saying that the second is like onto the first, Jesus is making the second commandment compatible with the first. In other words, the way we show God we love Him is by loving others the way we ourselves want to be loved.
I mean, how can we show God we love Him. We can’t just go up to God and give Him a great big bear hug, but we can give a great big bear hug to others. It’s by loving others that we show God just how much we love Him.
It’s here that we find ourselves falling short of honoring God because we really don’t love others the way we ourselves want to be loved.
After His resurrection and prior to His accession into heaven, Jesus gave this command to every believer.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a NKJV)
We honor God by honoring His last great command, and that is to take the gospel out to the farthest reaches of the world, and as nearby as our next-door neighbor. It’s not the distance; rather it’s the willingness.
Jesus also said
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NKJV)
And so the Great Commission starts in our own back yard, to our family and friends, and then it is to branch out into our workplaces and community, and then to our nation and the nations of the world.
So important is the fulfillment of this commission and that Jesus knew we couldn’t do it on our own, especially with Satan and His demon horde harassing us, Jesus tells us where to get the power to fulfill it, and that is through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We need to seek out the Holy Spirit and be empowered by Him if we ever want to honor God and have God honor us in this endeavor.
The disciples obeyed Jesus’ instructions and were filled with the Holy Spirit, and revival swept through the streets of Jerusalem making it’s way out into the country and beyond Judea’s borders and into the world.
And so we are to honor God by honoring our calling to love others as we ourselves want to be loved and thus loving God with the whole of our being, and then we are to take this good news of what Jesus did for us to our family and friends, to our sphere of influence and beyond.
And finally the last way we come up short in honoring God is in
It’s about making God first in our lives.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)
Literally when we begin to honor the Lord in these first two areas we discussed, that is in our giving and calling, we are then making God the first priority in our lives, and that’s when the Lord will add to our lives those things that we need.
One of the main reasons we fall short in our giving is because we’re afraid we won’t have enough for the necessities, that is, we won’t have enough to make the rent, put food on the table, or even make the car payment. But God’s promise is that He’ll provide when we put Him first.
Also, when we put God first in fulfilling the Great Commandment by loving others, as we ourselves want to be loved, then God will add to us eternal life. In His parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus said,
“‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40 NKJV)
And even in the Great Commission I’ve heard it said like this from Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel movement and denomination. He said that when we minister unto others, God will minister back unto us even more.
But we fail to honor God when we don’t place Him first in our lives and even in our conversations. We fail to honor God when we make Him an afterthought instead of placing Him at the center of every aspect of our lives.
And the promise is simple, if you honor God by placing Him first, then God will honor you by giving you what you need, not what you want or desire, but what you need to live an effective and successful life.
And so the lesson is simple, “Honor God and God will honor you.”
Wednesday Evening Bible Study