God is generous. He goes above and beyond even our wildest expectations when given the opportunity. We often have trouble believing this about God though. A typical thought that I hear people say is that ‘if God is so generous, why doesn’t He give me more?’, however this question exposes a failure to see the true character and nature of God. We have been indoctrinated with an idea that God is sitting up in Heaven demanding to be served and that He must be properly pleased or entreated before He doles out rewards, and even then you had better not expect much!
However this is a totally inaccurate idea and view of God. God is not up in Heaven demanding to be served; He is instead closer than you even realize, and instead of demanding to be served, He is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to serve you! Can you believe that? The God of the universe, has actually willingly taken the position of service, for your benefit – and He actually becomes a gainer of glory by serving you! This is what we will be taking a look at today. How God serves, how you can receive it, and what the truth about God’s generosity really is.
All throughout the life of Jesus, His purpose was to serve and can be clearly seen.
Even before His birth on the earth, He is prophesied and spoken of as a Servant in Isaiah 42 and Zechariah 3. And in Philippians 2:7 it is said that He took upon Himself the role of a servant for our sakes. So let’s quickly examine some of the actions of Jesus’ service throughout His life on the earth…
– In Luke 2, Mary wrapped the Baby Jesus in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, which is a stall, a feeding trough. (Greek: phatnē from pateomai which means “to eat”) Jesus is showing us a picture of that we should be feeding on Him.
– For His very first miracle, He turned water into wine at the wedding when they ran out of wine in John 2:1-11 – their resources were exhausted, they had nothing left to give. His resources are infinite and He is always giving.
– It was Jesus who multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the multitudes in Matthew 14:13. In Mark’s record of this miracle (Mark 6:37), the disciples complain about the cost of the food and where they would get the money. But again, Jesus’ provision knows no limits.
– He gave Peter a net-breaking, boat-sinking load of fish in Luke 5:6-7, which came before Peter’s repentance. We don’t have to qualify for God’s provision, He gives it freely, and as we see His unconditional grace, we are changed.
– He told the woman at the well in John 4:7, to give Him something to drink, which she never did by the way, but His request was designed to show her that she really had nothing to give Him… a lesson that we all should learn. Then He proceeded to give her the true water that comes from Himself and seeing Him – and her action of drawing from Him, actually refreshed Him better than any food or drink. He loves it when we receive from Him.
– Again He told Peter in John 13:8 that unless He washes us, we have no part with Him. We must receive from Jesus, we must allow Him to serve us, because we are incapable of doing it ourselves. And this shows us also how we need to constantly reminded of this fact.
– He told the people in John 6:53-56 that unless they eat His flesh and drink His blood (which is a symbol of communion, receiving His sacrifice) that they have no life in themselves. But those who do receive Him, abide in Him and He in them.
– In John 7:37, on the final day of the Feast of Sukkot (Hoshanna Rabbah), the eighth day, the most joyful day, Jesus stood up and cried with a loud voice If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink! You see, on the eighth day of this feast, is the water libation ceremony (Simchat Beit Hashoeivah) where they would draw from the pool of Siloam – but Jesus is telling them there is a better place to draw from; a wellspring that never runs dry.
– And of-course in John 19:18, Jesus’ greatest acts of service on this earth is His redemption for all mankind on the cross, as our perfect spotless Lamb. Given for the complete remission of sins for all eternity. He remains our High Priest forever, and we know from Hebrews 5, that a High Priest serves the people by representing them before God.
So now that we have taken a look at how Jesus has chosen to serve, let’s establish what was mentioned at the beginning: that God is generous. Now as mentioned, very few people truly believe this, or they believe it partially. When things are going good, sure then God is generous, but when things appear to not be going so well, then God is not so generous. This kind of roller-coaster belief will lead to a lot of heartache and pain and will eventually ruin a person’s relationship with God, because they are basing their status with God on natural worldly circumstances instead of the reality of His Word. This is the essence of faith, and this is what so many people are having issues with today… one of the biggest problems in the church is that the believers are not believing! We have reverted to a state in which we have become encapsulated in the realm of our own human feelings, emotions and senses. If I feel sick, then I must be sick. If I think nobody loves me, then I must be unloved. Whatever I am experiencing, thinking or feeling in a particular moment, must therefore be true because my human senses tell me so – and my friend, I must tell you that this kind of reasoning will lead to death, because it totally fails to factor in the reality of the truth of God in Christ Jesus.
How then do we get out of this kind of destructive thinking? It all starts by recognizing the generosity of God. Turn to Ephesians 3:14-21:
“For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
To him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
Paul says in verse 14 that for this cause he bows his knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we see that he is praying for everyone who is named by the name of Jesus Christ and that includes you and me today as fellow believers. Well now what is this cause that has Paul so deeply in prayer? Verses 16 through 19 list the things that Paul was praying, not only for the Ephesians then, but for us as well; the first of which is in verse 16: that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. Now stop here because we need to break this down and digest it.
We can see that we are to be strengthened with might, and even more amazing is that this strengthening is to happen according to the riches of His glory. This is not strengthening through the perseverance of human means, nor is it limited by human power. We also see that His Holy Spirit is involved here, and also notice where this strengthening takes place – in our “inner-man.” This is your innermost consciousness, deep inside of you. Your innermost thoughts and feelings. And look at how the Holy Spirit strengthens us – according to (in agreement and harmony with) the riches of His glory. The Holy Spirit will cause your innermost being to align and be in harmony with the truth of the glory of God.
Another cause that Paul bows his knees regarding us for is this: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
Now this word “hearts” is a little bit confusing in our English Bible… the Greek word is kardia, where we get our English word “cardiac”, referring to our heart muscle that pumps blood. However the true meaning of the Greek word kardia is not the human heart muscle, but your mind and thoughts. This is demonstrated quite plainly in scripture when Jesus perceives the thoughts of the Pharisees, and asks them why they they are reasoning in their hearts [kardia] (Luke 5:21-22).
So what this is saying is that as we keep our mind and thoughts focused on the truth of Christ (with the help of the Holy Spirit) this will be a source of strength for us. Consequently when we allow our focus to shift off of Christ and onto other things of this world, then we become vulnerable. When we turn on our TV’s or other media sources and allow the message of the world to creep in, then we start believe all of the negative reports; always remember that fear comes by hearing the words of men, but faith comes by hearing the words of God. And what does the word of God show us? The rest of verse 17 and onto 18 tells us this:
“that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;”‘
It is vital that you are always rooted and grounded in love. Not the mere human love, which is really no love at all – but the divine love of God for you. This is your root in Christ, this is the solid ground upon which to build. Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please Him. Why? Because those who come to God must first believe that He is and that He is a rewarder! Not of those who perform and keep the Law, but of those who diligently seek Him! The phrase “diligently seek” in Hebrews 11:6 means to “long for, crave after, seek after as one searches for hidden treasures”. But for many people, their relationship with God does not even come close to fitting this passionate description. In all honestly, most people are a bit bored and disappointed with God… Because in truth, they either don’t believe that He is, or they don’t believe that He is a rewarder of those that seek Him. And many times, they don’t believe either of those.
You see, the fact that God “is”, is present-tense. He is always with you, whether you feel like it or not. Regardless of where you are, regardless of what you are doing, regardless of who else is there –or not, God is always there, He is always present, and He is always active. God is never dormant, nor does He ever sleep. (Psalms 121:4)
Also He is a rewarder! Now a rewarder is one who pays wages earned; these are wages that are due. Now you and I cannot meet the standard based on works. But the verse here is telling us that the way rewards come to us is not by doing, not by earning, not by performing – but by seeing more of Jesus. Our reward Has already been earned by Him. All that Jesus has is set to your account; as He is so are you in this world. (2nd Peter 1:3-4, 1st John 4:17) Your only job is to look and live! (Numbers 21:8)
Now back to our verses in Ephesians 3, and the second-half of verse 18… When you are rooted and grounded in the love of God Almighty for you, then you will begin to see as all the saints before you have, how very massive it is – how utterly limitless and far-reaching His love for you truly is!
Continuing on to verse 19:
“And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.”
The more we see of Jesus, the more we will know of His love. His light is not the light of Moses which condemns and scares people away; no, His light is a light which shows His glory and His love for us. His love is beyond knowledge. There are many people who know all kinds of Bile facts, they excel at Bible trivia, and can memorize the Bible by chapter and verse, yet through all of that knowledge, they can still miss the love of Christ. You see, simply knowing Bible facts is not enough, but it is all about seeing Jesus and embracing His love – letting Him embrace you personally and receiving His free gift of salvation and no condemnation. And when you do that my friend, look at the next part: you will be filled with all the fullness of God. We have not yet even begun to scratch the surface of all that His fullness contains. Yet it doesn’t even stop there! Look on to verse 20:
“Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,”
He is the one that is able to do, He is the one that is able to accomplish. Notice that it is never us in our own strength or power, but it is always Him working in us that does and accomplishes. And we have this wonderful assurance: that even the very best of what we ask for, or even imagine, does not even compare to what He is able to do. The very best of your wildest dreams are still the bottom rung in the economy of the miraculous power of God.
This power that works in us is the energy, strength and ability of Christ manifested in us through the Holy Spirit. We are the body of Christ, and bodies express things. We are made to express and manifest His presence to the world. We are destined to shine with the fullness of His Glory. Now are you beginning to see how very short we come when we become depressed, discouraged and distracted by the factors of this world?
The final verse of our text today is very telling: verse 21 says:
“To him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
Any church that is truly giving God glory, will be glorifying and magnifying Christ Jesus – and that church will be glorious as a result. Jesus Christ must be the focus and foundation. His finished work, His love, His righteousness and strength. Not ourselves, or our works or our performance. And the verse and chapter end with the word Amen. So be it truly. Whatever is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23). Jesus is your source of strength, stop struggling, stop striving; look to Jesus and receive!