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GIFTS FIT FOR A KING
Intro: Joseph’s brothers have made one trip into Egypt to buy food. While they were there, they came face to face with their brother Joseph. He recognized them, but they did not recognize him.
In an effort to awaken their dead consciences and to get them to acknowledge their sins, Joseph accuses them of being spies and imprisons Simeon. They are told to return home and bring their youngest brother Benjamin to Joseph to prove to him they are telling the truth about having a family back in Canaan. He already knew the truth; he was merely trying to get them to face the truth.
In this text, Judah had convinced Jacob to allow him to take Benjamin with them to Egypt to buy more food. Joseph had told them not to return unless they brought their brother with them.
After a long speech by Judah Jacob gives in and allows Benjamin to accompany his brothers to Egypt. Before he sends his sons away, Jacob commands them to carry with them some gifts. He is hoping to soften Joseph up and cause him to treat the sons of Jacob in a more pleasant manner than he did the last time they were in his presence.
We will talk about the things Jacob sent to Joseph, but I would like to ask you a question. What do you give to a man who owns everything? As Prime Minister of Egypt, he did not need gold or silver. The offer of power meant nothing to Joseph; he was sovereign over all the land of Egypt. Jacob could not have offered him knowledge, for he had access to all the knowledge and advanced learning of Egypt. They could not offer him service, for had many servants to do all he demanded. What could they give a powerful, wise and wealthy man like Joseph? Jacob had the answer, and we will examine the gifts he sent to Joseph.
As I read this text and think about its message, my thoughts are drawn far higher than a mere man sitting on an ancient throne. As I consider this text, I am forced to think of a far greater King. When I do, I wonder what poor, miserable creatures like us could possibly give to a God like Him.
God doesn’t need our wealth. He owns all things! “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof,” Psalm 50:10-12.
God doesn’t need our knowledge or our wisdom. He knows all things. “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee,” Job 42:2. (Ill. Heb. 4:13)
God doesn’t need our power. He upholds the universe and all that is in it. He possesses all power. “Is any thing too hard for the LORD…”, Gen. 18:14. (Ill. Eph. 3:20; Matt. 28:18)
God doesn’t need our service. He commands myriads of angels who exist to do His perfect will. “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matt. 26:53. (Ill. Matt. 4:11) (Ill. But, praise His name, He allows us to serve Him!)
God does not need us or anything we possess. So, what could we possibly give to Him? These verses teach us something about that matter. In fact, these verses talk about the only gifts that are worthy of our Savior. I want to take this episode from the life of Joseph’s family and preach on the thought Gifts Fit For A King. Let me point out the gifts mentioned here. As I do, you and I need to examine our giving in the light of His will. Notice with me these Gifts Fit For A King.
I. v. 11 A KING DESIRES
· Jacob tells his sons to gather the “best fruits” of the land to Joseph. He wants to send Joseph a “present”. That word carries the idea of “a gift expressing loyalty to a superior”.
Jacob is simply saying, “We are going to send the man the very best we have.” When you look at the list of what they sent Joseph, balm, honey, spices, myrrh, nuts and almonds; it doesn’t seem like a lot. In truth, it was a lot. You see, even a little is a lot in a time of famine.
· These things were commonplace to Jacob and his sons, but they represented the best they possessed. Imagine how Joseph must have felt when he received this gift. He hadn’t tasted the fruits of Canaan in many years. How the little things from his home must have gladdened his heart and brought back fond memories of his early years.
The gift Jacob sent to Joseph was a simple gift, but it was a gift fit for a king because it was the best they had. They reached into their dwindling supplies and they sent the best they possessed to Joseph.
· Let’s consider our King. He deserves our best! After all that He does for us, anything less is an insult to the Lord. Sadly, most people are content to take the best for themselves and are willing to give the Lord the leftovers.
He deserves the best of our time. He should have the first part, the best part, and not just the leftovers, if there are any. Our time is a great gift from the Lord. He deserves the very best. I should not wear myself out doing the things I want to do, but I should devote the best of my time to Him and His will.
He deserves the best of our service. Our lives should be spent in the service of His perfect will. For too often, we only do the things we want to do. We serve ourselves and ignore His will for our lives. Be the best you can be where He has placed you, 1 Cor. 12:7-26.
He deserves the best of our resources. Many people buy what they want and enjoy the fruits of their labors and give God the leftovers. He deserves and demands the first part of our income. The Bible says, “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD,” Lev. 27:30.
· God is not looking for elaborate, expensive gifts. He expects us to give Him a very simple gift. He expects us to give Him the very best we have. That is all He expects, and it is a gift that everyone can give to Him! Just give Him a gift worthy of our King!
· Israel came to a place where they were giving less than their best. They received a stern rebuke from the Lord, Mal. 1:8; 13. He deserves our best!
· (Ill. Once, after a pastor had made an appeal in church for a great and worthy cause, that a certain woman, a member of the church, came to him and handed him a check for $50, asking at the same time if her gift was satisfactory.
The pastor immediately replied, “If it represents you.”
There was a moment of soul-searching thought and she asked to have the check returned to her.
She left with it and a day of two later she returned handing the pastor a check for $5,000 and again asked the same question, “Is my gift satisfactory?”
The pastor gave the same answer as before, “If it represents you.”
As before, a truth seemed to be driving deeply. After a few moments of hesitation she took back the check and left. Later in the week she came again with a check. This time it was for $50,000.
As she placed it in the pastor's hand, she said, “After earnest, prayerful thought, I have come to the conclusion that this gift does represent me and I am happy to give it.”)
· Are you giving our King the absolute best you have? Or, does He have to settle for second best, third best or worse? Does your gift represent who you are in Him?
II. v. 12 A KING DESERVES
· When Jacob sends his sons back to Egypt, he tells them to take double the money they took before. The first time they bought grain, Joseph put their money back in their sacks. Jacob tells them to take that money back and twice more besides. It is a sacrificial gift to say the very least.
· Our king deserves sacrificial giving as well. When we stop to think about what He sacrificed for us, it should motivate us to surrender all to Him. Jesus gave everything He had and was to redeem us. He willingly left Heaven and came to earth. He willingly laid aside His glory and adorned Himself in human flesh. He willingly suffered rejection, poverty, the scorn of men, hatred, shame, pain, and death all for us. Surely, He deserves no less from those He has redeemed from sin.
· When we start to talk about giving, folks get nervous. People like to be left alone to give as they please. I can understand that. What I give is none of your business and what you give is none of mine. However, my duty as Pastor is to preach “the whole counsel” of the Word of God and that includes the part about giving.
Some people argue that tithing is an Old Testament concept. They say that giving ten percent is something that was prescribed under the law, and since we are under grace, we are not obligated to give a tenth of our income to the Lord. I would just remind you that Abram gave his tithe to Melchizedek long before the Law was given, Gen. 14:20.
To those who say there is a difference between Old Testament giving and New Testament giving, I would say you are absolutely right! In the New Testament economy, God wants it all!
He does not want just ten percent; He wants the other ninety percent as well. He wants you and me to have a heart that is willing to surrender all that we have to His will. That is why Paul said what he did in 1 Cor. 16:2.
According to that verse our giving is to be in proportion to our income. When the Lord prospers us, we are to give back into His work. In the Old Testament time it was ten percent. In this day, a believer should earnestly seek the Lord and find out what God wants them to give, and that is what they should do. I would stress the fact that the tithe, or ten percent, is just the beginning! It should never be less than that, but ten percent should be the starting point. From that point, let the Lord guide you in your giving to Him. In truth, He wants to tell you how to spend the whole 100%.
J. Oswald Sanders said, “The basic question is not how much of our money we should give to God, but how much of God’s money we should keep for ourselves.”
· He has promised to bless those who give and curse those who withhold their giving, Mal. 3:8-10; Pro. 3:9-10; Matt. 22:21. When it comes to the matter of giving, what you give is something that is best settled between you and the Lord, 2 Cor. 9:6-8.
It is my conviction that we should give in direct relationship to how we have been blessed by Him. If He has done anything for you at all, He deserves your sacrificial giving to His work.
We don’t raise money through bake sales, car washes and yard sales. We believe that the work of the church should be financed by the free will gifts of God’s people. Now, you can give and be a part of what God is doing. Or, you can withhold your giving because you don’t like this that or the other and miss out on God’s blessings in your life.
· (Ill. Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher, was once invited by a wealthy man to come to preach in a certain country church, to help the membership raise funds to pay off a debt. The man told Spurgeon he was free to use his country house, his town house, or his seaside home. Spurgeon wrote back and said, “Sell one of the places and pay the debt yourself.”)
· Did you know that people really do that? They might not like how the church spends the money, so they stop giving. They might think the preacher makes too much money and they stop giving. They might not be getting their way, and they stop giving. To me, that is a dangerous game to play!
If you really believe that the “tithe is the Lord’s”, then you have no right to keep it, horde it up or use it for your own desires. In fact, if you ever find yourself in a church that is so far out of God’s will that you can’t give to support it, you should find yourself a new church to attend. Just be careful how you handle God’s money. That was a lesson Israel learned the hard way, Hag. 1:1-11.
· A lot of people are like the man in this story: Once upon a time there was a man who had nothing, and God gave him ten apples.
Ø He gave him the first three apples to eat.
Ø He gave him the second three apples to trade for shelter from the sun and rain.
Ø He gave him the third three apples to trade for clothing to wear.
Ø He gave him the last apple so that he might have something to give back to God to show his gratitude for the other nine.
Ø The man ate the first three apples.
Ø He traded the second three for a shelter from the sun and rain.
Ø He traded the third three for clothing to wear.
Ø Then he looked at the tenth apple. It seemed bigger and juicer than the rest. He knew that God had given him the tenth apple so that he might return it to Him out of the gratitude for the other nine. But the tenth apple looked bigger and juicier than the rest. And he reasoned that God had all the other apples in the world. So the man ate the tenth apple—and gave back to God the core.
· God will bless those who honor Him in their giving. Are you giving what you can to the work of the Kingdom of God? Are you giving sacrificially? Are you giving willingly?
· (Ill. Early in their marriage, Billy and Ruth Graham were visiting a church where Billy was preaching. During the offering, an usher came to the platform and pushed the offering plate in front of the guest evangelist. Billy reached for his wallet and pulled out what he thought was a dollar bill. As it dropped into the plate, he saw it was his one and only ten-dollar bill. His heart sank as he saw the bulk of his financial resources disappearing into the church coffers.
To further complicate matters, the church treasurer failed to give him an honorarium for his services that evening.
On the way home he told Ruth what had happened. Instead of sympathizing, she said, “And just think—the Lord will give you credit only for the one. That’s all you meant to give!”
III. v. 13-14 A KING DEMANDS
· Jacob sends Benjamin away with his brothers because that is what Joseph demanded of him. It broke his heart to do it, but he did what was demanded. He submitted and surrendered himself to the will of Joseph and sent his beloved son away.
· More than your time, more than your talents, more than your tithe; God is really interested in having all of you! He wants to bring you to the place where you and not your stuff is on the altar. That is what He plainly says in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
· God knows that when He gets you on the altar, He has everything there is! When you are on the altar, He has your time, your talents and your tithe. So, God works in our lives to bring us to a place of total submission. For when He has us, He has all we have and all we are.
· This is seen in how the Lord worked in Abraham’s life. Little by little God brought Abraham to the place of total surrender. When we arrive at Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to take his son Isaac, the son of promise, the fulfillment of all the promises of God, to a mountain to offer him as a burnt offering. There is not a moment’s hesitation on Abraham’s part. He does as he is commanded without question! What a testimony!
How could Abraham do that? He had reached a place in his life where he knew that nothing he had was his. He knew that everything, including Isaac, belonged to the Lord God. He knew that regardless of what happened to Isaac, God had an eternal plan. Abraham could safely place his Isaac in the hands of God with absolute faith, Heb. 11:17-19. You see, that whole episode was about God getting Abraham, Isaac was merely a prop. Isaac was just the leverage God used to move Abraham to a new level of surrender.
· That is the place God wants to bring us to as well. He wants us to reach the place where nothing matters but Him, His will and His glory. When we get there our stuff will cease to matter. When we get there, we would gladly lay it all down for Him. When we get there we will have a very loose grip on this world and its treasure. When we get there, He will have us and all we are.
· Are you there?
Conc: Shortly after World War II came to a close, Europe began picking up the pieces. Much of the Old Country had been ravaged by war and was in ruins. Perhaps the saddest sight of all was that of little orphaned children starving in the streets of those war-torn cities.
Early one chilly morning an American soldier was making his way back to the barracks in London. As he turned the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. Inside the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move.
The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, got out and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed-up window he could see the mouth-watering morsels as they were being pulled from the oil, piping hot. The boy salivated and released a slight groan as he watched the cook place them onto the glass-enclosed counter ever so carefully.
The soldier's heart went out to the nameless orphan as he stood beside him.
“Son...would you like some of those?”
The boy was startled. “Oh, yeah...I would!”
The American stepped inside and bought a dozen, put them in a bag, and walked back to where the lad was standing in the foggy cold of the London morning.
He smiled, held out the bag, and said simply: “Here you are.”
As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. He looked back and heard the child ask quietly: "Mister...are you God?"
We are never more like God than when we give. “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in Him should never perish, but have everlasting life.”
We are never more like God than when we give gifts fit for a king.
· Does He have your best?
· Does He have your all?
· Does He have you?
If He has spoken to you about your giving, now is the time to get before Him and do what He wants you to do.