Day 81

Always Be Generous

Wisdom Psalm 36:5–8
New Testament Luke 4:16b–19
Old Testament Numbers 14:6–9

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 36:5–8

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.

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 4:16b–19

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit… 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.
31 Then he went down to Capernaum…
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 ‘… 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!

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 14:6–9

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.”

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’

Thought for the Day

The same Holy Spirit who filled and anointed Jesus now fills and anoints you.
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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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