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     Sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by the Rev. Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    Oct. 27, 2019 | 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Giving Our Firstfruits
    Back to the Lord

    Proverbs 3:9

    Honor the LORD with your wealth,
        with the firstfruits of all your crops

     T HERE MAY BE AS MANY REASONS to honor people as there are people to honor. Every so often, we pause to acknowledge and honor special efforts by special people. Sometimes with an appreciation award. Sometimes with a designated day. Veterans Day. Labor Day. We honor people for milestones in their lives. Confirmation, graduation, marriage, retirement.

    Wisdom says to honor God. Not with an award or a designated day but with our lives. With all of who we are. Jesus calls us to love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. To honor God means to give God the respect, reverence, praise, and obedience that are due to Him. To honor God means to worship Him in our attitudes, affections, and actions.

    God deserves our highest honor because of both who He is and what He has done. He is our creator, sustainer, and redeemer. Our very life and breath come from God. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). All that we have, we have received from Him.

     † † † 

    Honor the LORD with your wealth,
        with the firstfruits of all your crops

    THE SECOND PART OF THE VERSE defines a way in which we honor the Lord — by giving our firstfruits.

    “Firstfruits” refers to the first portion of an Israelite’s harvest. In ancient Israel, farmers would bring, as an offering to God, the first of their olive oil or sheared wool or honey or grain or wine — whatever it is that they produced. It is a sign of trust in God.

    God again and again in Scripture calls upon His people to honor Him with the firstfruits. For us, in this non-farming society (at least for most of us), it means the first of our paycheck. Before anything else. Giving off the top of what we have to God is a tangible way of expressing our trust in Him to meet all our needs. If we take the first and best for ourselves and leave to God only what is left over, we are at least implying, that we are not sure whether the Lord can meet our needs. It’s hard to honor God with leftovers.

    † † †

    Honor the LORD with your wealth,
        with the firstfruits of all your crops

    SO, THEN, IF WE WANT TO HONOR the Lord, we give him our firstfruits — that is, our first and best.

    The way to do this is to resolve to bring the financial portion of your life into submission to God. The second step is to commit to giving your firstfruits. And to really honor God, commit to giving the first 10% (a tithe) of your income as an offering to the Lord. Lisa and I are committed to tithing — we have been our whole marriage.

    The third step is to stick with it. One of the best ways to do that is to set it up electronically. You can do this on our website, www.swiftchurch.org. Click on the “Give Now” link. Lisa and I still write a check to the church every payday but I set up an automatic offering to the church each month to go toward youth ministry. Nothing helps give more consistently, both in frequency and amount, like automating your giving.

    † † †

    Honor the LORD with your wealth

    BEYOND OUR FIRSTFRUITS is our accumulated wealth. George bought $5,000 worth of stock in January. He learned that if he sells it for $5,500, he’s made short-term capital gains of $500. His financial adviser said George will have to give the IRS $110 of his $500 capital gains. That leaves George with $390. But George heard in a sermon at church that he can honor God by donating stocks to the church instead of writing a check. For George and his church, it’s a win-win. He donates the stock to the church and avoids the taxes. His church gets the full value of the stock $5,500 instead of a reduced donation that would come from selling first.

    Lisa and I have designated Swift church as a beneficiary in our will. If we both were to die, the church gets a portion of our estate. You might consider the same. Or as a beneficiary of your life insurance. There are other ways to honor the Lord with your accumulated wealth, now or after your death. We can provide information for you.

    † † †

    IN ANCIENT ISRAEL, some of the firstfruits were used to build a magnificent temple to honor God. We don’t have the finest structures, nor should we. But we do honor God through the care and maintenance of this place. Every inch of this campus is used weekly for mission and ministry. While we entrust the church session to use our tithes and offerings wisely, it is good to affirm that the firstfruits we bring go to maintain and improve this place of worship, education, mission, fellowship.

    — Keith Cardwell   

    SCRIPTURE FOR THE DAY

    ►This is the Word of God for the people of God:


    Proverbs 3:9
    Holy Bible, New International Version


    9 Honor the LORD with your wealth,
        with the firstfruits of all your crops

    — This is the Word of the Lord.
    — Thanks be to God.


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    23208 Swift Church Road
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    Phone: (251) 943-8367
    email: swiftpc@gulftel.com