Thursday, November 23, 2017
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During holiday seasons in America, and especially Thanksgiving, you can actually call the Butterball Turkey Hot Line. And, yes, you can get an answer to whatever turkey questions you may have. A famous news commentator said that they had monitored that hotline last Thanksgiving; and one lady called and she said, "I've had this turkey in my freezer for 23 years. Can I still use it?" Okay, this is a true story! The man on the hotline said, "Well, if your freezer has been set on zero degrees the whole time and it hasn't been defrosted, then the turkey is probably okay. Maybe the taste isn't though." Well, the lady decided she wouldn't use the turkey after all. She said, "I know, I'll give it to the church."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Giving From the Bottom."
When that lady gave to God's work what she really had no use for, she wasn't the only one. That's been going on for a long time. Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Malachi 1 beginning at verse 6 where God says to his ancient people, "You show contempt for my name. But you ask, 'How have we shown contempt for your name?' 'You place defiled food on my altar.' But you ask, 'How have we defiled you?' 'By saying that the Lord's table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?' says the Lord Almighty." This is a powerful dialogue isn't it? Well, here's what the Lord expects from us: not the lame, not the blind. No, Numbers 18:29 says, "You must present as the Lord's portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you." "The best; the holiest," he says.
But, the best is what we want to hang onto. We want a low risk commitment that gives to Jesus what doesn't matter that much to us while holding onto the things that do matter to us. Obviously, we know we need to give something to this One who loves us and gives us life forever. But we'd like to reach into the freezer and meet our responsibility with some old turkey.
God's reaction to that kind of giving? Malachi 1:10, "'Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,' says the Lord Almighty,' and I will accept no offering from your hands.'" Wow! God says, "Close the church, cancel the meetings, close your hymn books, and forget your offerings. I'm not accepting any of it anyway." What you have given to God is an insult, not a sacrifice.
We have a lot of time to put into making money, watching T.V., being online, recreation, social media, and sports, but we're just too busy to give prime time to the work of the Lord. When the call comes for young men and women to offer their lives for the Lord's work, we pull our son and daughter a littler closer. We say, "Here am I, send someone else's child." We give what we can afford to give, financially anyway, and we keep most of our income to spend on ourselves.
Remember, Jesus isn't interested in the amount of the gift. He's interested in the amount of the sacrifice. We "dedicate our life to Christ," but we only make Him Lord of the areas that aren't really that important to us anyway. Jesus is officially Lord, but we still maintain control over the things that really matter: our relationships, our marriage, our money, our business, our ministry, our dream, our prize possessions, our romance. So like the believers of Malachi's day, we give to our Savior from the bottom, not the top, and we forfeit his blessing on our lives. We miss the peace; we miss the significance that could be ours if we gave Him our best.
Maybe you've been limiting His Lordship in your life. You've been offering to Jesus your leftovers. Make this the day you say, "That's enough mediocrity Lord. I've played games with your Lordship long enough. Jesus, I am all Yours."
He deserves so much more than you've been giving. He says to you today in the words of the old hymn, "I gave, I gave My life for thee. What hast thou given for Me?"