The goal of our Immeasurably More series is for us to work towards finding full contentment in Jesus alone. Our heartfelt conviction is that if we will be renewed in our relationship with Jesus Christ than we will never have to beg for money because generosity will well up from that. We have already talked about Immeasurably More Love and Immeasurably More Hope, the focus of the message on October 4, 2015 was Immeasurably More Grace.
Jeff Noble, our lead pastor, delivered this message. [podcast link for listening here] He began by calling our attention to where it all began (literally) in Genesis 1:1-3.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Notice that God took initiative at the moment he called creation into being, and especially notice that He didn’t have to do so. There was nothing on God’s agenda that day which said He had to create, He chose to. The beautiful thing about starting in Genesis 1:1 is that it is the earliest and best demonstration of grace in scripture.
Grace is a willful act from a supreme person giving you something that you don’t deserve or that you cannot achieve for yourself. We are alive and taking air into our lungs because in the beginning God chose to create. What an incredible reality! The earth was formless, and God chose to speak life into the nothingness. Did you notice that God’s grace results in creativity?
In John 1:1-3 we see another strong connection between God’s grace and his creativity that is reminiscent of Genesis.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
John wanted to make it very clear that through Jesus, God was creating a new people in which He could display his creativity. Jesus is the agent, source, power, and inspiration for all of creation. Reflect on the boundless grace of God the father, that in his creativity he would send His son. Because of God’s grace even when the world didn’t know who Jesus was, God led His Son to the cross. It is an amazing and upside down creativity displayed by a God full of grace.
From God’s fullness we have all received grace upon grace. It is grace that God offers us forgiveness, and it is also grace in the way He offers forgiveness through Jesus. God did not have to save any of us, and there is nothing that any of us could have done to convince Him to forgive us. Our sin is such an affront to His holiness. Through Jesus we are all a new creation—a new masterpiece of righteousness.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is anew creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
In Matthew 18:23-35 we see a radical display of grace in the parable of the unforgiving servant. The quick version of the story is that a king chooses to forgive and release a servant of his extraordinary debt for no reason other than he chose to. Then the servant, who was extended incredible grace, walks out and demands immediate payment from someone who owed him minimal debt. The wicked servant couldn’t forgive because he couldn’t release.
The unforgiving servant was so delighted in being debt free he forgot that someone made him that way. Is that where you are at today? Do you realize how much God has graced you? To the extent that we live selfishly in our own spheres we are are not understanding or embracing God’s grace. When we seek to be owners of our relationships, time, and talents, it reveals that we don’t understand everything we have, and everything we are is an act of grace. God calls us to be stewards of everything and owners of nothing.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Paul wrote to the church of Corinth with joyful confidence that if they chose to be creatively generous they would experience God’s abundance. He could have written to the church and demanded that they give a certain amount because of his authority as an apostle of Jesus. He didn’t do that though. Paul’s point was to look at the grace of God as our standard of generosity.
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9.6-7)
Abundant grace will result in abundant good works. Our motivation must be rooted in the grace of God, and our actions should be anchored in the character of Jesus Christ. God is the source of our life. He is the source of our breath, our laughter, and our strength. He is the source of all. God supplies all that we have. Why would we ever attempt to convince ourselves that our things are really our things? That our house is ours? That our intellect is because we’ve worked hard to improve our education? That our kids are ours? When we use what God supplies for other’s blessing and His glory, God blesses.
God supplies and God multiplies. In John 6:1-14 Jesus fed a crowd of 5,000 with 2 small fish and 5 small loaves of bread. In that one act God was trying to send a lesson to every Christian that will ever breathe — bring God your all and He will astonish you with what He gives you back.
Abundant harvest demonstrates the abundant creativity of God. When you release yourself into His hands and fully surrender into the love of Christ you will be transformed into the image of Jesus. You will become more than you could have ever been otherwise. He multiplies you.
God delights in astonishing us with his creativity. How creative is it to run our of wine at a wedding and then turn water into the best wine of the weekend (John 2:1-11)? How creative was it when the Pharisees questioned if the disciples paid taxes and Jesus tells his disciples to go fishing, which resulted in catching a fish with a coin in its mouth for the exact amount that was owed (Matthew 17:24-27)?
Abundant generosity reveals deep belief in the gospel. God enriches us so that we can bless others. A generous Christian reveals a Christian that is confident in the gospel of God. If we are not abundantly generous it may reveal that we do not believe the gospel.
Abundant submission is the key for joyful contentment. If you will not submit to God you will not experience his abundant grace. Isn’t that how we get salvation in the first place? We have nothing to offer Him, we simply come before Him. It is hard to submit, but the contentment that flows from submission will water your soul for the rest of your life.
Will you trust him today with who you are and all that you have?