Welcome to this series of - Making God First - in our lives.
To begin with, the Word of God assures us that God will always provide for our needs. There are so many promises in the Bible that teach us so. However, have you reached a point of wondering whether what God's Word promises is exactly what it means? Have you found yourself praying and asking God for blessings according to your perceived needs and you waited and waited for answers to your prayers and got nothing. Have you gone to God to look for answers to your problems and you came back empty handed. Do you find yourself with a lot of questions after reading in the Bible about how others in their time prayed to God and received answers, positive answers that is, like Hannah the mother of the prophet Samuel, and you wonder why it is not happening in the similar way to you?
Perhaps you have even heard in your lifetime how others around you are testifying on how God has answered their prayers and you keep on wondering when will your turn come to also testify in the same way?
It could even have happened that when you heard about how others who crossed over to other denominations, or went and consulted with "mediums" obtained solutions to their problems. And maybe, just maybe, it even crossed your mind that perhaps you should also help God by doing the same, as it is commonly said that God helps those who help themselves! And maybe you are wondering as to what is wrong with you that you are not receiving expected answers from God? Does this "ask and you shall receive" thing really work, for you?
God in the book of Malachi 3 challenges us to test him. We would like to take Him on his Word and "test or prove" Him. We want to see if indeed what He says He will do for us is true, He will indeed do so even for us.
So, to start, we should understand the fact that we were created for a relationship. It is crucial and very important to understand this. If we misunderstand this, we will always go about this the wrong way. While it is important to give to God, while it is important to return tithes and offerings to God, we should always bear in mind that this should come after and as a result of our love relationship with God. That is why it is very important to understand that what starts or the beginning point in this case, is a relationship with God before we go to anything else. If we miss this step, we will have difficulties in understanding our relationship with God in the first instance. If I may use an illustration in this case, it is like someone who wants to climb a tree by using the branches of such a tree instead of using the tree trunk to do so. We all know that climbing a tree from the trunk is logical and relatively much easier. The same applies in this case.
However, we cannot build a relationship with someone we do not know. That is why we need to take time in Bible Study and prayer and meditation in order to begin to know this God that we want to build a relationship with. We need to know His likes and dislikes, what is acceptable and not acceptable to Him. We need to know how to conduct ourselves in this relationship with Him for such a relationship to continue and last. We also need to know that we are not the only ones having a relationship with Him, there are others as well, our brothers and sisters, that we need to know how to treat and conduct our relationships with due to the relationship we have with God.
We should understand the fact that God does not want us to appease or bribe Him with gifts in order to gain His favour. We should never, ever, try to give God gifts as a way of buying His favours or just to fulfil a command or an obligation on our part. Our giving should be as a result of our love relationship with Him. Let me try to illustrate this point this way, when we give to our loved ones, we do so because we, in most cases, have this inner urge and desire just to give them because of our love for them. Therefore most of the times we just give them what we would like to give them even before they ask as that shows that we love them and most of the times we are thinking about them. This may not be a perfect illustration, but at least it shows in some little way how this love relationship with our God should be like. It should be pulling us toward Him and as a result the giving should follow as a natural consequence thereof.
We will stop here for now, but have a productive and blessed day further.