So this opening poem in Genesis 1
behind all matter
behind all existence
is this God who is overflowing abundance
so trees produce more trees and grasses more grasses –
that’s why you get to mow your lawns so much!
And animals producing other animals
and people producing other people
it’s all a generosity of life, bursting out of its seams.
The engine behind life is outpouring love and beauty and generosity and new beginnings!
Stars producing other stars and
the dust that’s left over producing other planets.
Right? this is this whole point of genesis Chapter one.
Not a scientific text book but actually a poem proclaiming what is behind this mystery we call life.
Telling us that it all comes out of a heart of love which we call God
And it’s all good!
God creates the heavens and it is good!
God creates trees and it is good and animals and it is good and man and it is good and then God creates woman to tell the man what to wear – and it is good!
It’s a celebration – Genesis Chapter 1 is a dance of joy!
All emanating from generosity of love that begins a flow from God through you and out to others.
Generosity is at the heart of creation.
That’s why when you are generous you are at your best.
That is why when the flow of this creator God is set free within you you are at your dynamic best.
When the flow is outward
because you become part of this whole dynamic
of blessing and joy.
And because the engine behind all of life is generosity of self-giving love
you will understand why stingy people are always miserable!
The Ebenezer Scrooges of life.
They are like black holes in space that suck life into them but never allow it to flow outwards. Someone has said,
"You can pretty much identify people chasing money for money's sake.
They're the most miserable people you'll ever meet.”
When Jesus speaks of life in abundance
it is not life that collects more for me
abundant life is life that over flows
into continual blessing for others.
It’s a gracious life.
It is grounded in the grace of God
the abundance of creation.
Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all,
giving us one blessing after another, writes John the beloved disciple.
So what does it look like if you are part of that abundant flow?
Jesus spelled it out.
You are abundantly loving towards your enemies.
I was watching the opening of the winter Olympics
and the sister of the ruler of North Korea was
shown to her seat
and in front of her was the vice-president of the US
a professed Jesus follower
who snubbed her while the world watched.
What a difference it would have made if he had turned, smiled and offered the hand of friendship and recognition that Jesus required of him.
If the grace he tells us he has received from God
had overflowed from him in a gracious outpouring
a generosity of spirit
as the world watched would that have been a testimony to his faith?
The same applies to you and me.
If the grace we believed we have received
overflowed into all our interactions
what a testimony that would be.
So what does this over-flow look like?
Lend, said Jesus, and expect nothing in return.
No interest, no capital.
You lend somebody some money – what’s on your mind?
When do you start to obsess about it?
Will I ever get it back?
Jesus is teaching that if you are in the right heart space
if you are part of the flow of grace
if somebody asks you for something
you can give it to them
and not have any concern about whether or not you will get it back, your free.
That’s your reward.
Of course you don’t lend your chain saw – let’s not be crazy!
But this, said Jesus, is what it looks like to be a child of God
for God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked –
that is she gives expecting nothing back.
God gives to me an abundance of grace –expecting nothing back from me.
Shocker – I thought I had to do something in return.
Hopefully I will pass the grace on. But even that is not a requirement.
So what does it look like?
Be merciful, just as your Father in heaven is merciful.
Abundant abounding mercy is to flow from us;
Do not judge, and you will not be judged;
do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Don’t sit around with long faces looking like you’ve been sucking on sour lemons!
So I’m not to condemn or judge that couple in a de facto relationship?
Right. None of your business.
Well how about that ‘gay’ couple down the road?
Nope – can’t condemn them either, nor judge them.
What you can do is pour out an abundance of grace on them
not so they will change and be like you
because you are giving, expecting nothing in return …. right?
You give and surrender the outcome!
They are not going to join your church or become un-gay.
You pour out grace upon them because God has poured out God’s grace on you in abundance.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven;
these are health rules
this whole flow
is to abundance of life and joy.
Sin is living outside of the flow of grace,
separating yourself from the flow of God’s spirit.
Sin is falling short of the glory of God
which is God’s graciousness.
My goodness – I know so many people, so many families
that could be healed
and a whole lot of relationships be restored
not to mention consequent
healing of mental emotional physical health
if only they could forgive the wrongs done to them
and walk across the void
and into each other’s arms.
What a difference.
One of the meanings of forgiveness is to lose or untie.
If you can imagine a great weight is tied to your body
and you are thrown into deep water,
On top of the weight is a bow easily within arm’s reach.
All you need do is undo the bow and the weight will drop away and you won’t drown.
It releases you.
Jesus goes on, give, and it will be given to you.
The text can read, when you give make sure it is a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.
In other words, don’t be tight and exacting with your giving whatever it is grace, mercy, forgiveness, money, and in some way the measure you have used will be poured back into your lap.
For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."
I knew this guy who discovered he had a spare $500 in his bank account.
Didn’t have any savings at the time.
And as he was rejoicing in this and wondering what to do with it as he was driving towards home a couple came to mind, friends of his who had just given up his job
to train for the ministry of the church.
And it was like God was saying to him go to the bank get five hundred in cash and take it to this family.
Which he did.
Met the wife at the door and said simply I have this envelope for you.
He heard later that the wife was at crisis point questioning their whole decision when that one act turned their whole world into hope.
I was to discover that the giver would later be blessed with
so much more beyond that gift in a way that never crossed his mind.
All he knew at the time was an abundance of joy in being able to give as he was caught up in the flow of this whole dance of the abundance of creation.
You and I are at our best when we live in that flow.
We are in our native country when we are
when we refuse to judge or condemn
we are living out of our divine dna
when refuse to gossip and speak ill of others.
We are children of God when we are kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
We live the abundant life, when we surrender to the flow of God’s spirit when as Jesus said from out of you flows a stream of life giving water.
Words of wisdom from the men’s group. Imagine the flow of this river of God
Abounding grace, mercy, compassion.
From time to time we find ourselves in it.
Then we find ourselves washed up on the bank – that’s our human nature that is living in sin – living separated from the flow of grace.
That’s when we do all the nasty judgemental, gossipy things.
Then we find ourselves back in the flow.
It’s a conscious choice.
The longer we stay in the flow of grace and generosity the more we begin to hate being on the bank. Are you with me?
The river is your natural home the flow of grace is your dna. that’s why you are at your best when you are outrageously graciously, abundantly generous.
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