God loves a cheerful giver!

God loves a cheerful giver!

Are you generous? Generous is defined as “showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected”, and “showing kindness toward others”. So are you being liberal · lavish · magnanimous · munificent · giving · openhanded · free-handed · bountiful · unselfish · ungrudging · free · indulgent · prodigal · bounteous? How about magnanimous · kind · benevolent · altruistic · charitable · noble · big-hearted · honorable · good · unselfish · self-sacrificing? When we look into the statement a bit closer, it could be read as a hilarious giver! God’s not interested in us giving begrudgingly! God’s not interested in us giving out of compulsion! God’s not interested in us giving reluctantly! He is more interested in your heart! Are you giving love? Are you giving grace? Are you giving hope? Are you giving leadership? Are you giving wisdom? Are you giving food? Are you giving time? Are you giving money? Are you being generous with any part of your life? How are you serving? How are you leading? How are you speaking through your actions? It’s not about the size, it’s a matter of the heart! We see this in the message of the widow’s mite! It’s not a matter of the size of giving, it’s a matter of the size of the heart! When people think of you do they think of you as generous? Are you willing to make time for others? Are you willing to make a way for others? What do people hear, see, and know about you? Faith without actions is dead!

God wants us to be more like Him! He is a generous God! He wants us to be shining His light into the world around us! He wants us to reflect like love and generosity of Jesus to the world around us! Just like the sun shines on the moon and it reflects its light, we are to reflect the light of the Son! How can we be sharing the love of God with the people around us today? How can we show people God’s generosity in what we do today?

As we prepare to start our reading and devotional for today, let’s first stop and consider what James 1:5 tells us about God and remember how God wants us to be like Him and consider what we can do today to be more like God…

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. — James 1:5

Are you willing to give generously? What about giving generously to all? How about giving generously to all without finding fault? Do you think you can do it? Is there anything that would hold you back from it? Pray and consider what God would have you do and have you live out today! Will you listen to the still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit who prompts you today? Will you obey His prompting? Will you choose to glorify God today in how you choose to live out this day?

Always Be Generous — Day 81: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 36, Luke 4:14-37, Numbers 13:26-33, Numbers 14

1. God’s generous river of delights … Psalm 36:1-12

1I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes. 2In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin. 3The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful; they fail to act wisely or do good. 4Even on their beds they plot evil; they commit themselves to a sinful course and do not reject what is wrong. 5Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 6Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. 7How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. 9For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. 10Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart. 11May the foot of the proud not come against me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. 12See how the evildoers lie fallen—thrown down, not able to rise!

–from Psalm 36

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading as follows…

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):

God’s love is ‘meteoric’

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

God’s faithfulness is ‘astronomic’

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

God’s purpose is ‘titanic’

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

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.

–from Day 81: Bible In One Year 2017

2. God’s generous outpouring of his Holy Spirit … Luke 4:14-37

14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16He 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, 17and 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.

20Then 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. 21He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.
22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
23Jesus 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. 25I 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. 26Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27And 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.
28All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29They 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. 30But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Jesus Drives Out an Impure Spirit
31Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.
33In 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.
36All 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!” 37And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

–from Luke 4

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading as follows…

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 are available to all who follow him:

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). Theophilus of Antioch 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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

–from Day 81: Bible In One Year 2017

3. God’s generous provision … Numbers 13:26-14:45

26They 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. 27They 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. 28But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29The 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.”
30Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
31But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32And 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. 33We 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.”

–from Numbers 13

The People Rebel

1That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2All 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! 3Why 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?” 4And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
5Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. 6Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8If 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. 9Only 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.”
10But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11The 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? 12I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”
13Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. 14And 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. 15If 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.’ 19In 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.”
20The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22not 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— 23not 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. 24But 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. 25Since 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.”
26The 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. 28So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: 29In 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. 30Not 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. 31As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. 32But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. 33Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. 34For 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.’ 35I, 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.”
36So 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— 37these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord. 38Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.
39When Moses reported this to all the Israelites, they mourned bitterly. 40Early 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!”
41But Moses said, “Why are you disobeying the Lord’s command? This will not succeed! 42Do not go up, because the Lord is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, 43for 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.”
44Nevertheless, 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. 45Then 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.

–from Numbers 14

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading as follows…

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. In order to enjoy all God’s generosity there are certain things you are required to do:

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.’

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.

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.

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.

–from Day 81: Bible In One Year 2017


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