Day 81

Always Be Generous

Wisdom Psalm 36:1-12
New Testament Luke 4:14-37
Old Testament Numbers 13:26-14:45

Introduction

Generosity is a beautiful characteristic in people. We love and admire generosity. My mother used to urge us as children, ‘Always be generous.’

How do you think of God? Do you think of him as a little bit mean or tight-fisted? Or do you think of him as extraordinarily generous?

God’s generosity is seen in the natural world. For example, there are over 25,000 varieties of orchids. The orchid is just one of 270,000 species of flowers. God does not do things by halves. In our galaxy there are over 100 billion stars like our sun. Our galaxy is one of over 100 billion galaxies. It is thought that for every grain of sand there are a million stars. In a throwaway line in Genesis, the writer tells us, ‘He also made the stars’ (Genesis 1:16).

God is extraordinarily, extravagantly generous. David speaks of God’s ‘… river of delights’ (Psalm 36:8b). He ‘gives generously to all’ (James 1:5). If God is so generous to us, we also should ‘always be generous’.

Wisdom

Psalm 36:1-12

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord.

1 I have a message from God in my heart
  concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
  before their eyes.

2 In their own eyes they flatter themselves
  too much to detect or hate their sin.
3 The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
  they fail to act wisely or do good.
4 Even on their beds they plot evil;
  they commit themselves to a sinful course
  and do not reject what is wrong.

5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
  your faithfulness to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
  your justice like the great deep.
  You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
  People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house;
  you give them drink from your river of delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
  in your light we see light.

10 Continue your love to those who know you,
  your righteousness to the upright in heart.
11 May the foot of the proud not come against me,
  nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 See how the evildoers lie fallen—
  thrown down, not able to rise!

Commentary

God’s generous river of delights

David pictures God as a rich and generous host who gives indiscriminately to all people (v.7).

David was surrounded by people with ‘no regard for God’ and who were ‘eager to sin’ (v.1, MSG). They were ‘wicked and deceitful’ (v.3a) and constantly plotting evil (v.4a). They had ‘ceased to be wise and to do good’ (v.3b). By committing themselves to a sinful path (v.4b), they had spurned God’s generosity.

Yet even in the middle of all this, David knew God (v.10) and drank from his ‘river of delights’ (v.8b). These delights include knowing and experiencing the extent of God’s love (see The Message translation):

1. God’s love is ‘meteoric’

His love ‘reaches to the heavens’ (v.5a).

2. God’s faithfulness is ‘astronomic’

His faithfulness reaches ‘to the skies’ (v.5b).

3. God’s purpose is ‘titanic’

His righteousness is ‘like the highest mountains’ (v.6a).

4. God’s justice is ‘oceanic’

His justice is ‘like the great deep’ (v.6b).

You can find ‘refuge’ in the shadow of his wings (v.7b). You can ‘feast’ in the abundance of his house (v.8a). Abundance is a synonym for generosity. The ‘fountain of life’ is found in him (v.9a). In his light you ‘see light’ (v.9b).

These are some of the ‘delights’ that he generously gives you in your relationship with him.

Prayer

Lord, thank you that you invite me to feast in the abundance of your house and to drink from your river of delights. I pray that you would continue to generously pour out your love on me, on the church and on your people.

New Testament

Luke 4:14-37

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

  18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
  to set the oppressed free,
    19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”

24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

Jesus Drives Out an Impure Spirit

31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.

33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are —the Holy One of God!”

35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

Commentary

God’s generous outpouring of his Holy Spirit

Jesus returned to Galilee ‘in the power of the Spirit’ (v.14a). He went into the synagogue at Nazareth and revealed his manifesto. Reading from Isaiah 61 he said,

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
||because he has anointed me
||to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
||and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
||to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (Luke 4:18–19).

He announced, ‘You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place’ (v.21, MSG).

The ‘Spirit of the Lord’ is the same as the Holy Spirit ‘whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour’ (Titus 3:6). In Jesus we see the fruit of a life filled with the Holy Spirit that is available to all who follow him:

1. Anointing of the Spirit

The word ‘Christ’ literally means ‘anointed one’ (it is the Greek form of the Hebrew, ‘messiah’). Here we see how Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit in his ministry. That same anointing was given to his followers at Pentecost: ‘He anointed us… and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit’ (2 Corinthians 1:21–22). St Theophilus of Antioch (the second-century theologian) wrote, ‘We are called Christians (christianoi) because we have been anointed (chrisometha) with the oil of God.’

The Holy Spirit anoints you to ‘proclaim good news to the poor… proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free’ (Luke 4:18). There is nothing more exciting or fulfilling than ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit.

2. Gracious words

People were ‘amazed at the gracious words’ that came from the lips of Jesus (v.22). Love is never rude (1 Corinthians 13:5). Jesus was always gracious. Gracious words are evidence of the power of the Spirit in your life.

3. Amazing teaching

‘They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority’ (Luke 4:32). ‘His teaching was so forthright, so confident, so authoritative, not the quibbling and quoting they were used to’ (v.32, MSG). Authority comes from the power of the Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, teaching is mere words.

4. Authority and power

Through the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus dealt with demonic powers (vv.33–35). Again, ‘All the people were amazed’ (v.36), because, ‘with authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!’ (v.36).

5. Praise and fury

Ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit provokes two opposite reactions – praise and fury. In verse 15 we read that Jesus ‘was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him’. Then a few verses on we read, ‘All the people in the synagogue were furious’ (v.28). Today, you can expect the same reaction. The message of Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit produce both praise and fury.

Prayer

Thank you, Lord, that the same Holy Spirit who filled Jesus and anointed him now fills and anoints me. Lord, I pray today that you will anoint me with the power of your Holy Spirit. Help me to speak gracious words with the authority that comes from you.

Old Testament

Numbers 13:26-14:45

Report on the Exploration

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan. ”

30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

The People Rebel

14That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt? ” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt. ”

5 Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. 6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”

13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’

17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”

20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times — 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. 25 Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea. ”

26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. 28 So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: 29 In this wilderness your bodies will fall —every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. 32 But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. 34 For forty years —one year for each of the forty days you explored the land —you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’ 35 I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this wilderness; here they will die. ”

36 So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it— 37 these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord. 38 Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.

39 When Moses reported this to all the Israelites, they mourned bitterly. 40 Early the next morning they set out for the highest point in the hill country, saying, “Now we are ready to go up to the land the Lord promised. Surely we have sinned! ”

41 But Moses said, “Why are you disobeying the Lord’s command? This will not succeed! 42 Do not go up, because the Lord is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, 43 for the Amalekites and the Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the Lord, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.”

44 Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the highest point in the hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord’s covenant moved from the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.

Commentary

God’s generous provision

God is so generous to his people. In this passage, we see how he had provided them with ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’. Joshua and Caleb reported that ‘the land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us’ (14:7–8).

God’s generosity is extraordinary. Some things are stored up for the future when you will be face-to-face with him (see Ephesians 1:13–14; Hebrews 4:8–11 & 1 Peter 1:4–5), but there is much that God gives to his people here on earth now. If you want to enjoy all God’s generosity, here are four things you could focus on today:

1. Take possession

Caleb said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it’ (Numbers 13.30b). But others objected, ‘They’re way stronger than we are. They spread scary rumours’ (vv.31–32, MSG). There is always going to be opposition but do not be put off by the giants.

The people did not think that they could defeat the giants. Only four individuals (Moses, Aaron, Caleb and Joshua) believed God was greater than the problem. Joyce Meyer comments, ‘Sadly, we often stare at our giant-sized problems instead of at our God... I believe that more time spent worshipping and praising God would help us keep a clear focus and enable us to go forward with a strong, positive attitude, believing we can do anything God tells us to do.’

2. Believe God’s promises

The Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will they refuse to believe in me?’ (14:11). The people of God started grumbling against their leaders and saying, ‘Why didn’t we die in Egypt?... Let’s pick a new leader; let’s head back to Egypt’ (vv.2–4, MSG). In the face of opposition and a few problems, are you sometimes tempted into self-pity and wanting to return to your old life – thinking that you were better off before you started following Jesus? This is a temptation to be avoided at all costs.

3. Watch for his guidance

God is so kind and generous to us. He promises to go before us ‘in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night’ (v.14). If you want to enjoy all the good things God has for you, keep your eyes fixed on his guidance.

4. Follow him passionately

The majority were put off by the giants. Only Joshua and Caleb were different: ‘Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly’ (v.24). In the end, only those who followed the Lord ‘passionately’ (v.24, MSG) enjoyed the land flowing with milk and honey.

Prayer

Lord, I thank you for your amazing generosity and all the good things you have in store for your people. Help me to take possession of all the gifts that you have for me, to believe your promises, to listen to your guidance, to follow you passionately and to constantly drink from your ‘river of delights’.

Pippa adds

Numbers 14:29–30

It is not good to be half-committed to God or to grumble or disobey him. The people of God missed out on so much. (I am feeling a little bit guilty about my occasional grumbles!)

But God rewards faithfulness to him: ‘My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly’ (v.24). Let’s stop the cynicism and the grumbles and follow God with wholehearted enthusiasm.

Verse of the Day

Luke 4:18

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, ||because he has anointed me ||to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners ||and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free’
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References

Joyce Meyer, The Everyday Life Bible, (Faithwords, 2018) p.233

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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