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Living by Faith (Vol 17) - Faith Gives the Best!

Sunday English Service - 11 NOV 18


Hebrews chapter 11. Let me read to you verse 4. By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. We’re studying faith from Hebrews chapter 11, this famous faith chapter, wherethe great hall of fame of faith is found, all the heroes of faith are listed here. This chapter has much to say about faith.The first three verses describe faithand tells us about how faith works. So, we looked at it for several weeks. And now we're going to start looking at various Old Testament examples of faith. The demonstration of faith by people,the men and women of God of Old Testament times, how they demonstrated faith. If you remember we looked at verse 1 in great detail. Then we went to verse 3 and looked at in great detail. Verse 1 says, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. It defines faith. Second verse says, for by it, that is by faith, the elders, the Old Testament ancestors of these Jewish people who have now become Christians, that's what elders means, their elders, the Jewishpeopleof the Old Testament times, the men and women of God, how they obtained a good report. We skipped that verse because what we're going to study now from verse 4 all the way to the end isa further explanation and description of that verse.Verse 2 where it says, the elders obtained a good report. We're going to look at the elders, the Jewish ancestors of this generation to whom this letter was written.

So, in verse 4, we read about Abel’sfaith.Abel’s faith is mentioned hereas an example to us. They want us to see the faith of Abel. Now here,the very first example is Abel. And in the very first example, it’s quite amazing that giving is mentioned. It's talking about how faith gives the best. That's the topic we're going to deal with.Because if a person really has faith, it will be seen by the works that he does on the outside. Faith is not something that is always hidden. It is of the heart, but you can’t say that you will never see it. You can see faith.You can see faith at work.Faith is always revealed by the works that you see on the outside.So, Abel’s faith is revealed as he brings an offering to the Lord. I use the word offering here it says, brought an excellent sacrifice, and I'll show you later on why I use the word offering.That it's referring to an offering rather than the idea of sacrifice.When we go to Genesis will show you how that is true. It is actually referring to the offering that both these people, Cain and Abel, broughtand how they brought it. We need to look at it. So, faith is revealed by its works.Faith has corresponding action.Faith shows itself, reveals itself by the works.

Now these days, when we hear a lot about grace, some people dislike the word works.I think we are falling into the same misunderstanding that used to exist in the early days of reformation. Martin Luther brought the reformation based on this truth that a man cannot be justified by his own works. That God justifies him by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Martin Luther had a revelation of that, that no man by any kind of good works that he can do, cannot justify himself before God, cannot receive a good standing before God. He says very definitely in Romans; no man shall be justified by the works of the law.He teaches that in Romans chapter 4 and then we read it in Galatians also. In Romanschapter 4,Paul mentions actually Abraham as an example and says, “Was Abraham justifiedby works of the law or by faith?” If it is by grace, it has to be by faith, because grace gives and faith takes.Was he justified by his works or was he justified by faith?And he proves that he was justified by faith. He uses him as an example. Not by law, but by faith.

But when it comes to James, if you read James chapter 2, you'll find utter confusion because James says exactly the opposite. “How was Abraham justified?” He asked the question. And he says, “Not by his faith, but by his works.”Immediately you think these two fellows arecontradicting each other. Even during the period of Martin Luther people thought that Martin Luther himself thought that the book of James must be removed from the New Testament. He at one point said that,“It is better to remove the book of James from the New Testament because it is teaching against grace and faith,” because you will find it difficult to understand that statement that Abraham was justified not by his faith, but by his works. But Paul is talking about works of one kind and James is talking about works of another kind. Paul is talking about how a man cannot be justified by the works of the law, by any kind of good work that he does, he cannot be justified. James is talking about how if a man had faith,surely, he will show it in his action.Every man who has faith will have corresponding action that shows that he has faith. How can a man have faith and not have any actionthat corresponds with that?That is his point. He is not talking about justifying by faith. He is not talking about man trying to justify himself by faith.A man, if he already has faith, he musthave works that go with it. That is what he's talking about. There is nothing wrong with it, and we are able to understand it better these days.

So, here in verse 4, the author of the book of Hebrews wants to show Abel's faith and show us howwhat he did in giving to the Lordshows his faithand he wants us to knowhow his faith worked and what it did. Now, in order to understand this, we're going to go to Genesis chapter 4. In Genesis chapter 4 we're going to read the story of Cain and Abel, the original story of Cain and Abel, which the Hebrew author is quoting.See, the book of Hebrews is made up of sermons which were preached in the New Testament times, in the first century, to Jewish Christians. People have turned to Christianity from the Jewish background. Have you ever imagined what kind of preaching went on in the first century?You read the letters of Paul, Peter, John, and on, what they wrote is exactly what they preached. What they wrote is a brief version of what they preached, the essence of what they preached. When they wrote, they wrote very briefly, because in those days, the paper was not available. Writing material was very expensive and rare, and therefore they had to use economy when it came to writing.But whatever they preached, they wrote, and today, whatever they wrote, we take and we preach it, we expand on it.

So, the book of Hebrews is about the kind of preaching that went on among the Jewish converts to Christianity in the first century.And chapter 11, just imagine how they would have taken one example after the other and preached the word of God to them, preached the topic of faith to them. So, as a preachertoday, it is my job to go back and preach as closely as possible to what they preached from the same verses. So, we've got to go to Genesis chapter 4. But before that, let me tell you where we're going, and then we'll go there. That's our approach. We always declare what we're going to do and then we do what we declare.

Three things we're going to look at today. If you want to understand Abel's faith and learn something from it about faith, you need to look at three things.One is, the manner in whichAbel brought his gifts. Why was his gift acknowledged?Why God respected his offering, the Bible says. Why God received it, why God acknowledged it, why God was pleased with it. You need to understand why God rejected Cain’s offering, why God was not pleased with it. Why?What is the reason?Three things you have to look at.One,the manner in which it wasbrought. Abel brought it by faith, Cain didn't have the faith.Two, the quality of the offering. What he brought is very important. We're going to look at it. The quality of the offering that Abel brought and the quality of the offering that Cain brought are two different things, you will see. Thirdly, we look at the character of the giver. When it comes to the manner of giving, we're going to talk about the faith. Faith is the manner in which he gave.When we talk about the quality of the gift, we’ll talk about how Abel gave the first and the best, but Cain just gave something.He was not very serious about this. He did not take care to see whether he honored God by his giving, because there was no faith in his heart. It was a religious ritual for him. It was just a thing that he did. He was not very serious about it. He was not interested in honoring God, because he did not have faith in God. That's the problem. So, when we talk about the quality of the gift, we’ll talk about how Abel gave the first and the best. But regarding Cain, nothing is said here. Thirdly, when we talk about the character of the giver we’ll talk about the righteousness of Abel. How he had righteousness.He revealed his righteousness by his deeds.

All right, let's go to chapter 4 of Genesis. And let's read this, then only we can make the connection between Hebrews chapter 11 and this. This is what the author of the book of Hebrews is referring to in chapter 11 verse 4, when he talks about Abel’s story.Let me read from verse four, and let's look at the first point that is the manner in which the offering was given. Now AdamknewEve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I haveacquired a man from the Lord.”I want to say something about this verse.Here is the first man and woman having their first child. It’s a very significant event. So, the statement,“I have acquired a man from the Lord,” is not an ordinary average statement that you'll hear from a woman today when she bears a child. I've got a child. It’s not a very ordinary statement like that.First man and woman having the first childwith great expectation they're having this child. Why? Because after they had fallen into sin, and have been driven out of the garden, one thing was in their mind and there was an expectation, there was a hope that was given, even in the midst of the sin and the fall. Remember, God came and found Adam and Eve.They were hiding and they came out and they said, “Because we were naked and afraid, we hid.” And then God finds them. And then God speaks to the serpent, speaks to the woman, and speaks to the man.And tells them what is going to happen because of what has happened by way of sin.

So, speaking to the serpent, in chapter 3 and verse 15, God said this, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” He’s telling the serpent. The serpent which was used by the devil. So,He's literally talking to the devil and says, I'll put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her Seed. This is the first promise of the coming Messiah. Everything has been ruined. God's plan has been destroyed here, man has fallen, and the devil has done it.And God comes and speaks to the devil and He says, “I'm going to put enmity betweenyour seed and her Seed.” He’s right theredeclaring that Savior is going to come as a woman’sseed.Usually the seed for childbirth comes from a man. But here He says, the woman’sSeed. He’s talking about the woman’sSeed. Here He declares the virgin birth through which Jesus will come into the world. Not only that, He declares the battle that will go on, rage between the devil and Jesus on the cross of Calvary. And how that Jesuswill crush his head and the devil will bruise Jesus’ heel.So, the damage that the devil caused to Jesus on the cross by killing Him is very minor, just a bruising of the heel, it says.But the damage that Jesus caused through the death and His resurrection is major.He crushed his head. All this was declared long before it ever happened.In chapter 3 of Genesis verse 15.

Now just imagine after this, the man and the woman were driven out of the garden, to go out and live in the wild, this beautiful garden where everything was provided for was lost. Now they're in trouble, they got to make their life.Very sad thing. They're out there. So, this hope was very alive in their hearts. They were expecting for this Seed of the woman to appear. They were expecting for a child to be born who will become a deliverer, who’ll bring them back into the garden, and into the blessings of God that they originally had. So, with that expectation she conceived, and Eve bore a child.And when she bore the child, she declaredsaying, “I have acquired a manfrom the Lord.”They named him Cain.The name Cain interestingly means this is he, that's what it means. They were saying, by naming Cain, “God said that there will be a savior who's coming, who’ll bring us back to the blessing of God, remove the sin and the curse from us, and this is the one.This is he.” That's what Cain means.So, when she said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord,” she was actually saying, “I've got that man that God was talking about.That man who would be the savior, who’ll bring us back to the blessings of God.”So, that verse is very significant.

And then it says in verse 2, Then she bore again, this timehis brotherAbel.So, Cain meant this is he that is, this is the Savior, he happened to be the murderer then.But then she bore a second child, they named the second child Abel.Interestingly, his name meant vapor.Vapor is there now and in a flickering moment, it is gone. His life was like that.Very brief, very short-lived, he was killed by his brother.He was literally there like a vapor and gone quickly.

But it's amazing how God has honored Abel that thousands of years later, we are talking about Abel in this church, and in so many other churches around the world. He is honored. God has honored his faith, even though he died very quickly. He has been killed, but his faith is honored, the man is honored.And I'm sure Abel is watching from heaven as we preach about him today. He lived a very short life. It seemed like a very insignificant life but it was a great example of faith. What he did by bringing his offering to the Lord was a great example for believers today to follow so that the New Testament believers were taught this truth. Now look at verse 2.Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of the sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.Divergent to two different professions. One becomes a farmer, the other becomes a shepherd, taking care of the sheep.And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Because he's a farmer he brings the fruit of the ground to the Lord.Brought an offering, it says. That is why I prefer this word offering, even though Hebrews 11 says it's a sacrifice. Now, what Cain brought was not a sacrifice.

Many people read this story about Cain and Abel bringing an offeringand they think it refers to which kind of sacrifice is the right sacrifice? They believe that Abel broughtan animal sacrifice, which involves shedding of blood, and therefore foreshadowed the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary and that is why his offering was respected.And Cain did not respect this thing that God had established, that without the shedding of the blood there shall be no remission of sin. Remember, when God came into the garden, saw the man and woman that has fallen,wearing fig leaves, hiding their nakedness. He brought them out and He said, “No, this is not sufficient for you. This will not hold up.” Even the clothes that we buy in nicestores tear up. Just imagine what fig leaves will do. So, he said, “I'll make you clothing out of skin.”So, He makes a coat of skin for them and dresses them up. See the mercy of God to a fallen man. Man has fallen, he's ashamed. He’s hiding,he’s in fear. Godministers to the sinner. God knows he has sinned. God knows he's fallen.Comes in ministers to him lovingly, covers his nakedness, gives him some dignity. Because God made man for dignity. He does not want him to be ashamed and be hiding and be afraid.Covers him with a coat of skin.Where did the coat of skin come from? It came from an animal. He must have killed an animal.And Adam and Eve for the first time in the Garden of Eden in their life, they witnessed the killing of an animal, the death of an animal. God was teaching through that to them, sin cannot be remitted, sin cannot be remedied without the shedding of the blood.If you sin, it requires an innocent lifeto be given so that your sin can be covered, you can gain back your dignity again.A teaching was given right there.

So, a lot of people believe that when Abel brought the offering... see, here verse 3 says that Cain brought the fruit of the field and 4th verse says,Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did notrespect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.And later on, he murdershis brother.Cain murders Abel. It’s a famous story.Everybody knows this story, even people in the world. Nowadays when you watch television, how much Bible is there, even in the news? They talk about the gospel, they say this is the gospel truth. I'm glad they know the gospel now.They're hearing it everywhere. And they talk about Cain and Abel and all that.Very interesting for me to watch that.But listen to this. When people read this they say,“Why was Abel’s offering accepted?Why was Cain’s rejected?” They say,“It's because, very simple,Abel acknowledged the system that Godhad, that there shall be no remission of sin without the shedding ofblood. He acknowledged it, respected it, therefore brought fromthe sheep that he had and shed its blood, killed the animal, acknowledged God's way of salvation.Therefore, his was accepted. Why was Cain’s offering rejected? Becausehe broughtsomething that did not involve the shedding ofblood, therefore he did not respect God's law, that without the shedding of bloodthere's no remission of sin. He had his own way of salvation, thereforeGod did not accept...”

Famous narrative this is. A lot of people believe in that.Nothing wrong in believing that.The thing is truth. It is truth. It is truth that you cannot be saved by your own works, and all of that.You have to be saved by Jesus, the Lamb of God, who gave His life for you on the cross of Calvary. I believe in it very strongly. I believe that the coat of skin taught that. I believe that succeeding generations knew that.It was taught to Abel and Cain, surely it must have been taught to the others. And we see therefore offerings being offeredto the Lord and so on. The OldTestament is full of it. And I believe that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. But what I'm going to say to you is, this event recorded here in chapter 4 of Genesis and this event referred to in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 4, both these things, the original record of this event, and Hebrews a reference to it,both of them, they are not writing thishere in order to teach us about which offering is the approved offering from God, orwhich sacrifice is right.That is not the point they're trying to make.They're talking abouthow to give to the Lord, how do you bring an offering to the Lord. When you bring it, you must bring it by faith.

Now, you may say, “Well, in Hebrews chapter 11 he uses the word sacrifice, not an offering.”Says, by faith Abeloffered to God a more excellent sacrifice, it says. Therefore, he must be talking about sacrifice, not an offering, you may say. But there also you see, it's not the sacrifice and whether this was the right sacrifice or not that is emphasized. What is emphasized there is the faith of Abel. ‘By faith’ is the most important part of that verse.By faith Abel brought or offered to God a more excellent sacrifice. Faith is the point that they're trying to teach.Even chapter 4 of Genesis is trying to teach faith. It is telling us, look at Abel’s faith.How he believed God and how he expressed his faith. And the author of the book of Hebrews therefore takes this and uses this as an illustration of faith.So, this is not about which sacrifice is right.Whether ablood sacrifice is right, other sacrifice... No, no. That is taught elsewhere in abundance.And I believe the blood sacrifice is the right thing, because that foreshadowed Christ and His work on the cross. But here,this passage in Genesis 4 is not teaching about that.Neither is Hebrews 11:4 teaching that. What are they teaching then?They're teaching about the faith of Abel.

The difference between the two is faith. Abel brought from his flock because he was a shepherd, Cain brought from his field because he was a farmer. He was in that profession.There was nothing wrong in what they brought but there was something wrong in how they brought it.The problem is not that he brought someproducts of the field and this fellow brought the animal which can be killed, and the blood can be shed. The problem was, that one brought it with faith, the other did not have any faith at all. He carried it out as a ritual. That is the point. So, catch that first. So, that is why I prefer to use the word offering. It is talking about bringing the offering to the Lord and offering it to the Lord in an attitude of faith.

Now, in faith Abel gave. So, that is very sure. We can be very sure that it's talking about faith. It is not about the sacrifice that was given, the subject is not about which is the right sacrifice, that is not at all the subject here.The subject here is how to give offerings to the Lord by faith. If he had faith in God, seeAbel had faith in God. What does faith in God mean?He believed that God is the creator of everything, that God created a wonderful world and blessed man. And given everything to man.The earth is yielding its fruit because God has blessed it, because God has made it possible. He recognizes and acknowledges that everything happens by the work of God. God is the one that sustains the world. God is the one that made him and brought him into the world, and has given him the breath of life. His life, and everything around him, comes from God. He acknowledges that, he believes that, and therefore he sees God as the source of everything that he has.And therefore, with faith in God, respecting God as the Creator, the Maker,he comes and gives it by faith. He believes in God. He believes that God is the source of everything that he has.

Now God does not need their offerings. God is the maker of heaven and earth. But He considers it a privilege to bring it to Him because out of what God has given,he comes with a heart fullof wonder and amazement, that the maker of heaven and earth who created everything would receive an offering from his hands. God does not need it at all, but He will receive it from his hands. Because, when he brings that offering, it reveals his faith that he wants God to be his Lord. His parents have done the wrong thing by rejecting God out of their lives, by disobeying God, by listening to the devil, they lost all the blessings. Now Abel is saying, “God, I believe in You. I trust in You. I believe in You. I come to You. I love You. I honor You. I want You to be my Lord.” That is what is involved there. So, the manner in which he brought is wonderful, it's faith.

The second thing is the quality of the offering. Now, this is a very important thing, the quality of the offering. Look at how specific the Bible is about the quality of the offering. In verse 4. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.Two words:firstborn of the flock, that means that which is born first, the fat.Fat is an old-time word.Kids here today will find it very difficult to understand fat. What do you mean by fat? Fat simply means best. You can write it in your Bible,write next to that wordfat, best. Fat is the best portionin the meat. I don't want to make you hungry. But when you get the meat there is something wonderful in fat. Nowadays, people have discovered the wonder of fat and the goodness of fat. “They say eat fat, it’s good for you,” they're saying. And the taste is there in the fat.In that meat there's a little streak of fat that is running there. That is what gives you that nice taste when you put it in your mouth.Fat means best, the best portion.So, if you translate it like that, you will easily understand. So,Abel brought the firstborn.The firstborn means that as soon asa sheep gives birth, he brings the firstborn. Because he recognizes God is the one that has made it possible. God has given him increase.

Proverbs chapter 3 verse 9 and 10 tells us, honor the Lord with all the increase of your substance.So, here is the principle, this man had an increase, his sheep fold was growing day by day, they're yielding.So, every time the first born comes, he's taking and bringing it to the Lord, because he recognized God is the blesser. And let me read to you a couple of verses because there may be a lot of people that are new that need to understand this very well. Exodus chapter 13, just the three verses here that’ll explain further what we're talking about. Exodus chapter 13 verse 12, God is saying,“that you shall set apart to the Lord all that open the womb,that is, every first born that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord's.”For some reason it was a society in which males were considered very important.Male-dominated society. So, even in the animals they considered the maleas very importantbecause of the role they play in the production happening,they play a great role. So, I guess it was a society that respected the male more than the female, that kind of society. Bible does not play this gameof putting down females and elevating males and all that.

If you read in 1stPeter chapter 3, Paul writing to husbands and wives, he writes in verse 7 to the men he says, live with your wife with understanding andgive the honor that is due.That is long before feminism came. They have never even heard of feminism back then. 2000 years ago, Peter was writing saying,“Give honor to the wife that is due.” I mean even today, it's very difficult to hear that. He’s saying, “Honor your wife in the way that you should honor.”So, Bible is different but Bible also recognized that the societyin which this was written, it was a male-dominatedsociety. So, using that culture, it teaches certain truths. God says,“Every male is mine.”Because the male in their mind is important.So, He says, “That's mine.” The point is not that it's male, it's important in their mind.Whatever is important to you, that only you must give. You must not just pick whatever is not important to you and bring it to me and give, because that is a way of dishonoring God.If you say, “Well, this is a little blind or lame or sickly, it may look like it's going to die anytime.Let's go take it offering and kill it before the Lord, before it dies because it's going to die anyway.”“No, no, don't bring it,” He says. You’re dishonoring me. “Bring the best,” He says. “Bring the firstborn.Whatever opens the womb and comes first, I want it,”He says. “The best only I want, and the first only I want.” That's why Jesus teaches later on in the Sermon on the Mount, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

So, the issue is putting God first. By doing this you show that in your heart, youhaveGod first. God is number one in your life.So, first born belongs to Him. The males belong to Him. Leviticus, chapter 3 verse 16. And the priest shall burn them on the altar as food, talking about the offering, an offering made by fire for a sweetaroma. And then it says, allthe fatis the Lord’s.Everybody likes the fat, they like to take it home. God says, “No, nothing doing, leave it here. It’s for Me.” Why?Is God going to eat it? No, God's not going to eat it. Have you seen God eating fat? No, God is not going to eat it. He says, “If I'm hungry, I won't even ask you. The cattle in the thousand hills of the world were created by Me. If I want, I will kill and eat as much as I want.I will never ask you,” He says in the book of Psalms. Read it. God says,“I have no such need. I don't need your offering. I don't need nothing from you. But I want your heart. I want you to demonstrate your faith. I want you to demonstrate what you think about me. Am I number one in your life? Am I first?You are created for Me; do you belong to Me? Do you believe that? Do you trust in Me? Do you have faith in Me? Demonstrate it then.Bring it,” He says.The fat belongs to the Lord.

Now, another verse. You're going to like this one. Leviticus chapter 7 verse 25.Sometimes Old Testament can be very shocking. This one such verse. Now God has said fat belongs to Him. Now look at what He says. For whoever eats the fat of the animal of which men offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, the person who eats itshall be cut off from the people.“He’s a dead man,” He says. Not only did He say,“Fat belongs to Me. Bring the fat to Me.” He said, “If any man takes the fat and eats what belongs to Me,he's a dead man.” That's shocking, isn't it? Say,“What brother? I can’t understand Old Testament. Very rude. Very crude.How can God kill peoplefor just eating the fat? Because He said, it belongs to them. They ate it.” God says, “He’s a dead man.” Now God had to teach certain things like this because He had to impress upon them the importance of His role in their lives. See, they are all in sin and lost.They live the way they want to. They don't respect God. They don't think about God. They have no place for God in their life. They don't think about the commandments of God. They don't see where all the blessings come from. See, all the blessings come from God and His creation, what He has made. They don’t acknowledge this. They're lost in the world, living without God.

How do you turn their hearts to God? He had to give such rules and laws to turn their hearts, to make them think what this meant. They very well knew.The teaching was given to themabout what this meant.When they read it, they were not shocked about it. That if you ate it, you’ll be dead.They understood what it meant. That meant that you always give the best to God and you don't eat it.The best belongs to God.Now, some people have a problem with that.One man said to me, “What kind of God is this one? He wants the first and the best.” Because people are always used to having the first and the best for themselves. You'll see a lot of people even within a family sometimes, the man will be eating biryani in a restaurant where four or five children are sitting at home eating rasam. I always wonder how this fellow can do it. Does he not think about his children?It's alright if he brought some home. If he's a good man, he will bring home the food and they will eat and only whatever is left he will eat. That is a sign of a good man. But people are like that,“I will buy myself first, Christmas is coming.I will buy my shoes first, my clothes first. I will dress up well first, if it's left over, we'll see. Because I'm the earning member. He's the God.So, I will do everything.”

That's the way men think. They say,“My money. I made it. I earned it. So, I have every right to enjoy it. That's the way they think. God says,“No, without Me you won't be even breathing.” Hello? Without God's favor breathing will stop this minute, He says.But people don't acknowledge that. So, God had to teach these things like this.And that is the meaning of chapter 4 verse 4in Genesis.He brought the firstborn of the flock and the fat, which means the best. When he did that, he was honoring God.He was saying to God, “God, I acknowledge You as my source. You are number one. I understand You don't eat this stuff. I understand that You don't want the first and the best because You don't have.You're not trying to collect an offering from me and make a living out of that. No, You don't need anything. You gave me everything. I understand that.” See, Christians have to be told this these days. Because sometimes they get on the wrong track. They think,“I'm going to help God,” as if God is the one that needs help.For your information, God does not need our help. We need God's help. We need God in our life. And these things are taught in that way. The whole idea of offerings is taught in the Bible for that. To show us how much we depend on God, to even breathe, have the breath of life, and to even put our hands to work and for our work to produce something good, so that when it produces, we must not grab it, we must first think of God and say,“Thank You, Lord.Thank you for blessing the work. Thank you for helping me to produce some profit. Thank you. The first and the best always belongs to You. But because that is a sign that You are my provider, You are my source, You are my everything.” That's all.

God is not interested in just grabbing everything best from you and taking away whatever you have. No, God is interested in increasing you even more.When you give Him the first and the best, I'll tell you, your life will become the best.Your future will become the best, your days will be good on this earth when you honor the Lord.Because God says,“Himwho honors Me, I will honor him.” So, the quality of the gift is very important.Now, we need to understand this even more. Let me give you some example. I told about if a man eats it, he’ll die.In the New Testament we have a wonderful story.Story of Ananias and Sapphira.People wonder about that story. These are shocking stories. This couple belonged to the early church, in the first centuryin Jerusalem.People were bringing their offerings at that time. Many people were inspired to sell some of the possessions that they had, valuable possessions like properties, houses and lands, and bring the proceeds and give it to the church. Nobody asked for it. The Bible does not teach to tell people to sell everything and give it and all that.No, no. The Bible doesn't teach it. They did it out of their own willingness, out of their own desire to serve God and to serve God's purposes. They lovedGod, so they wanted to give their best.What is most valuable to them, what is very precious to them, they went and sold and broughtwithout anybody demanding it and saying this.So, these people stood there and looked at some people bringing their possessions and giving it to the church. And they said, “Well, if I bring it, I'll get a good name, I'll get a big name.That’ll be good for me.”So, they went and sold a property and brought part of the proceeds.And that's nothing wrong.They could have given just a portion of the proceeds. But they brought the part of the proceeds and they went and lied to Peter saying,“This is all of the proceeds.”They wanted to impress. The motivation was pride. Give the wrong kind of impression, deception.And, both husband and wife fell dead. They had to be buried. I mean, you read the story that’s shocking. And it was shocking to the New Testament Church also.The fear of God came upon everybody.

Now, don't be afraid. God is not trying to kill anybody.Certainly, God is not trying to kill anybody. If God starts killing like that, I don't think any of us will be here today. All of us would have been dead and would have been in the graves already. But thank God for the grace and mercy of God. It is not God's intention to kill even one person. But it so happened in that church that day, to bring the fear of God about the seriousness of the manner in which they brought the offering and the quality of the offering that they brought and so on, this happened. I've seen sometimes people give the worthless things.Sometimes when they decide to give something to others, they find out something that they don't at all need, and that will not even sell for one rupee.They'll find some junk and whatever is worth nothing in their mind to themselves, whatever is not at all precious, whatever is not at all important, they give to others. That's very bad. Because the Bible says give and it shall be given unto you.Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over shall men pour into your bosom. If you give junk, what are you going to get?Good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over junk.If you give what you're supposed to throw in the garbage, thinking that you're donating something, you're going to get back truckloads of garbage.Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.

See, we need to reorient our thinking as God's people. When we give, we must give what is precious.When we give, especially when we give to the Lord, we must give only that which we consider the highest thing and the most precious thing in our lives. Every time we give, we need to examine ourselves to see,“Is this the first and is this the best?Is God number one in my life? Am I giving with that attitude?”That is what is being taught here.So, whatever people sow they reap. But people do that all the time. Galatians chapter 6, I don’t have the time to read it. If you read verse 6 to 9, it says, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man shall sow, that he shall also reap.” It's a principle of God. Sowing and reaping principle works very definitely in the matter of giving.

Turn with me to2nd Chronicles. When you give the way God has shown these people to give, God expects them to give, what happens?2nd Chronicles chapter 16 verse 9.We studied it few weeks ago. Listen to this verseonce again.The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him.In this you have done foolishly; thereforefrom now on you shall have wars. This verse is known by most Christians. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughoutthe whole earth to show Himself strong on behalf of thosewhose heart is loyal to Him.God is looking throughout the world, searchingfor people on whose behalf He can show Himself strong. What kind of people is He looking for? Obviously, He’s not looking for anybody. He’s looking for peoplewhose heartis loyal to Him.Who serve God wholeheartedly. Who haveGod as number one priority of their lives. Who always give God their best.God says, “I will show Myself,My power. I will show Myself strong on their behalf. You know what that means? Let me say it in simple language. When you have a heart that says,“I will only give the first and the best, I'll be like Abel. I will follow the example of Abel and be a man who can bring an offering which God can approve, and acknowledge and bless. When you become like that, you know what happens?When God finds a man with a heart like that, who gives the first and the best, God says,“I will show Myself strong on his behalf.”Very simply it means,“I will use all the power that I have to open doors for him, cause everything to work out in his life. Bless him immensely. Make him a success. Open doors for him. Give him the wisdom and the understanding to rise from the condition that he is in to the very top,” becausethat is how God shows Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.

I'll tell you, my friend, when you can find God's favor in your life, you'll never be the same.Your life willtotally change. When you get your heart right, your future will be different. When you get your heart aligned withGod's word, when you put God first and give Him the best, and He is number one in your life, that is the person that God is looking for because he wants to show His poweron your behalf. He wants to do something for you. He wants to bring about miracles in your life. Things that you never even imagine in your wildest dreams. He wants to make possible things that you thought was never possible. God can bless you every which way you turn and turn your life around completely.

But very few takers for that. People would rather believe in their strength to earn, to own whatever they have and to do whatever they like with it than to trust God, and do what God says.It's very difficult for people. That's why God has to search to and fro.The eyes of the Lordlooking to and fro throughout the wholeearth because only a few are available, only a few he can find. It’s amazing. I’m telling you, everyonethat is hearing this word, here and from far off, every one of us are challenged today to be like that. I think we all need to just lift up our hands and say, “I'm ready to be like that. I want to be a man whose heart is loyal to God.Whose heart is full of God. in whose heart God is number one priority. I want to live for God with my whole heart.” And God is looking for such person so that he can turn their lives around and make all things possible for them. He wants to show His power on behalf of them.

Finally,the character of the giver.Abel is described as righteous in Hebrews 11:4.That's his character. Now, regarding faith I want to just say something.See, when it comes to faith, we need to have faith for all essential areas of our lives. I find that some people have faith for healing, but they don't have faith for other things like prosperity and blessing and so on. There is a hindrance in their mind. There is a blockage in their thinking. They can never think in those terms. Why?We need to feed ourselves every day in such a way that every need of our spirit, soul and body, the work of our hands, our family life, everywhere, that we will be prosperous and successful.We need to feed the word of God and grow in faith in all of these areas. We need to have faith in such a way in all areas of life, so that all our needs are met.So, all of ushave certain general needs for which all of us need faith in all these areas. You should not have faith for something and not faith for other things. Some people can believe in prosperity, but cannot believe for healing.They’re weak in that area.We need to get strong in all those areas because all these needs are very important human needs. It is applicable for every single person.Everybody should have faith for all of this.

But there are some specificways that faith is given to some people. For example, a person may be in a profession in order to fulfill God's call in his life and God's purposes in his life, God gives him faith.For example, I'm a preacher, you may be an engineer of some kind, I've met young engineers who started out just as a student in a college and look like they're not going to become anything, but they graduate and they find an invention, one small invention that is very useful for mankind. One little thing, one little device or something like that. How many times it's happening nowadays in this world, and they shoot up like a shooting star because their invention is so useful, so wonderful. Everybody uses them. So, they begin to employ thousands of people and become owners of big companies and live a very successful life and so on.Because God gives them the wisdom, the ability, the understanding. Some of them, I've seen some believers, believe God for wisdom, believe God, and pray and ask God.In Americathere was a man, an African American who was raised in utter poverty.No college would take him. No college would admit him because of racism back in those days. This is 100 years ago. Nobody will take him.He applied everywhere, nobody took him. He learned on his own sitting at home.

One American white lady to him, and taught him some reading and writing and so on. Then thereafter he took upon his own, became a great scientist and brought about so many innovations and products and became very great man later on. Many schools are named after him today and so on. Back in those days, nobody recognized him. But he became a great professor in a college, and so on. Finally, one college took him and trainedhim. And he graduated from there and was a very useful person. Amazing what he could do.And he says that he will go into a room, the first thing he'll go do when he goes into the lab is that he will pray. Pray and ask God for his God's help. And he says, “When I pray and ask God for God's help it's like a curtain opens up and I begin to see possibilities. I begin to see before my eyes how to do certain things. Certain revelations come to me. It's unbelievable how this man succeeded. People are wondering how he came up with so many products, hundreds of products he came up with. He was an agricultural engineer. He came up with so many products. People wondered how he made it because he says, “Now, it's prayer.I pray to God, ‘God open my eyes. Godgive me a vision for this.’ God showed me how to do it.” Amazing.

Now, I am not an agricultural engineer. If I try for that also, I'll break my head and never probably get there. Because, one reason, I was not called for that. God gives you the ability when you're called to do what you're called to do. I can do certain other things in the ministry and so on which God enables me to do but I cannot do what he does. It’s a specific ability that God gives to a person for a specific call in his life. Take for example, Samson in the Bible. He’s a guy who can beat up hundreds of people at one time, just single-handedly with a jawbone of an ass he killed so many people.Just one little instrument is enough.Strong.He took the gates of the city and walked up the hill. The man is amazing. The strength is amazing. God gavehim the strength to battle against the enemies of the Lord in those days. His anointing was such. His gift was such. His faith was such.He could believe God to do those. He could believe to do the impossible when it has to do with strength. He believed God. Daniel, for example, was another kind of person. He is a praying person. By prayer heachieved everything. They put him in the lion's den.And he stayed overnight there. He prayed. And God sent an angeland shut all the lion's mouth and in the morning, he came out of it without even one scratch.If you took some Samson and put him there, in the morning, I think they'll be flies flying everywhere.He would have torn up the lions.

I'm sure he’d have done something to the lions. And just imagine if you put Elijah there, he would have brought fire from heaven down and burntup the lions. He'd have had French fried lionsin the morning.Because these are men that were called differently. They are different,gifted differently, and so on. So, their faith is also different in that way.

But like I said,we have some general areas. In all those areas we must believe God for faith and be men and women of faith. But then we have specific areas like this, our call in our life, a mission in our life that God has given to us to accomplish that we need faith, extraordinary faith to do certain thingsand achieve great things. Reinhard Bonnke is a wonderful example. Reinhard Bonnkeis a German missionary who did great work in Africa. Some of the meetings had 10 lakhs people come and attend his meetings. As he was growing as an evangelist making a good success of his ministry, he needed some trucks to carry his stage and his PA system and everything. So, he went to purchase them. His money was limited at the time. And his thinking was also very limited. So, he said, “Well, let me go and find the old junkyard kind of trucks and work on them, pay a little bit and buy them and bring them here and work on them a little bit and get them ready and use it for the ministry.For the ministry it's all right. We'll get some junk and work on it and get it ready.”So, you went to a big yard, hundreds of vehicles are standing. He walked up and down, he was so confused. Did not know which one to pick. So, at one point he was so frustrated, he stood there and said, “God, where are you?Please help me.Help me choose a few vehicles that are good that can be used for the ministry.” And God replied to him and said, “Reinhard, you are looking for me in the junkyard?You're never going to find me in the junkyard. Why haven't you expanded your thinking? Why haven't you enlarged your heart? Why can't you enlarge to buy better stuff? Do you have to buy this junk and use for ministry? Does ministry look like any junk will do? You think so cheaply of ministry.”

I've even seen back in the old days when people don't want something would say,“Ask the church if they want it.” It was habitual among people. “This is junk laying around, if the church wants it, we’ll give it.”They think church can take all the junk and he’ll pray over it and make it new. No, the church doesn't need that. Church needs good stuff. Ministry needs good stuff. And he says God showed him that day. That as a saved child of God, having received the righteousness of Christ, a New Testament believer, a new creation in Christ,he must begin to believe big,think big,enlarge his heart,enlarge his mind, and grow in the mindas his crowds grew, and ministry grew and all that.He must grow in his mind and his heart so that he cando great things. And he ended up doing very great things for the Lord because he realized that's the way to do it.

Have you heard of sticker shock? Sticker shock is where you go into a storeand the sticker that has priceyou always dread to see it because you know it's going to be high. So, some people don't even see it. Because the thing looks too good it may be very expensive. Some people just look at it and say, “No. That's not for me. I know it's not for me. I've never bought anything for this price. And I'm never going to buy it. I will never need this kind of thing.” Sticker shock. I used to have sticker shocks also. I had to be healed from sticker shockand delivered from sticker shock.And it's wonderful when you're delivered from sticker shock. When you get delivered from sticker shock, youbegin to think that you are a new man.That you are in Christ.That to him that believe all things are possible, the person is very important. The person, the way you think, the way you believe, what is in your heart, how your heart works is very important. Without changing all of that you can't just do a ministry, you can't just do anything. You can't have a successful family having a failure heart. Heart failure is another thing but failure heart is... I'm talking about failure heart. A heart that is oriented towards failure. “No, brother. I don't think it will work out for me.It's very difficult brother. You don't know.It just won't work for me.”Some people are like that, all negative. Nothing works. Nothing can be done. And if you ask any more,they’ll say,“You don't know brother.” They’re so wise they have found outthat nothing good can happen. I'll tell you if you're truly wise you'll find out that all things are possible to him that believeth.

Adam and Eve lost everything, they're out in the wild.Lost the blessings of God.Abel believes that he can get close to God.Abel believes that he can walk with God.Abel believes that he can talk to God.Abel believes that he can get God's acknowledgement.Abel believesthat he can get the blessing of God.Abel believesthat his life can change, his future can be different.I don't know about you. I believe that. I believe that every Christian believer ought to believe like that. That if you're saved, if you are a child of God,you have to reorient yourselfas a person. You got to think big thoughtsand be a man of faith and a woman of faith to do great things for God, to accomplish what God has called you to accomplish in this world.And it is possible. Amen. Let's all stand together.We'll continue.

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