In Blog 362 part 1 we were considering how thanksgiving connects a life of ‘Godly contentment’ and the ‘rest of faith’ with a hungry heart for more and an active ‘asking God’ attitude. I believe that this will grow on us as we meditate more deeply on the various attributes and characteristics of God Himself. For example the more we soak in His love beyond understanding (Ephesians 3:19), or His faithfulness (see Blog 361), and let our thankfulness flow, the more both faith and expectancy will rise and our rest of faith will increase.
However today I want to reflect on another aspect of the Lord that will fuel faith both to ask, expect and, at the same time, to be at rest. This is His extraordinary generosity. I think that Jesus told the parable we call ‘the prodigal son’ (Luke 15) in large part to show us what His Father was, and is like. So the Father generously lets the younger son have his part of the inheritance without reproach, no doubt knowing he would waste it. Sure enough that happens; some time later, coming to his senses, the son thinks “How many of my Father’s servants have food to spare” (v17). Wow, Wow, stop a minute, did you catch that? The son, in his sin, knew that his Father was extraordinarily generous. A good master would feed his staff healthily and well, but this is more – ‘food to spare’ – take chocolate to bed with you for a midnight feast! And you are only a servant not a son.
Remember Jesus is describing His Father to His listeners and to us. And that was just the beginning, then you get to the Father looking, running, embracing, kissing, giving a robe, ring and shoes, (and all that those three meant), plus feasting and rejoicing and no resentment or begrudging at all! One other thing (v20), the Father “was filled with compassion for Him”. I think Jesus wanted to make it blindingly clear to us that His Father was acting from the depths of His heart, not from anything superficial. The Father’s love, forgiveness and generosity to us is from His very depths, it is who He is. When I really comprehend that there will be such a flow of thanksgiving.
Moreover, Jesus not only taught about it, He clearly demonstrated the extraordinary generosity of God in practice at the feeding of the 5,000. And the Holy Spirit made very sure that in Mathew ch14, Mark ch6, Luke ch9, and John ch6 all told us the details (Four witnesses – more than enough for a conviction biblically). Clearly the Lord felt this was a very, very important truth for us to grasp. Many of the things He did and said are not recounted in all four gospels. God’s mathematics: 5 bread loaves + 2 fish = 5,000 men + women + children (note all “were satisfied” – not a snack) + 12 basketfuls left over (note again it was baskets, not little plastic pots, and they were full).
‘Why Lord isn’t that unnecessary? So much left over.’ I think the Lord wanted us to begin to get an inkling of how outrageously generous He is. Much, much more is left at the end than they had started with. God seems to be upsetting my understanding of physics! You may say ‘Ah, Mark it was a miracle you see.’ Yes but it would still have been an absolutely extraordinary miracle if they were all satisfied and there was none left over, and it would have been ‘neater’! I think that the Lord wanted us be startled by His ‘out of this world’ generosity. And just to make sure we got the message, Jesus repeated it with the 4,000+ soon afterwards, including, again, more left over than He started with by a huge percentage. Have we got the message?
Two other verses speak of God’s generosity and how knowing it, resting in it, and being thankful for it will fuel our faith to be hungry and ask. In James 1:5 he tells us “If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask God who gives generously to all, without finding fault….” God is so unlike us human’s who easily revert to “you are not asking for something else are you? Sort it yourself, you should know how…” Notice it says “to all,” you and me included, whether you are 5 minutes a Christian, or 50 years a Christian and ‘should know better’!
And here’s a wonderful, perhaps more obscure, verse in Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple, 1 Kings 8:41-43. “..The foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel..” who has heard about the Lord’s great name and mighty hand and outstretched arm – when he comes and prays “…then hear from heaven…and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you…” It seems Solomon had some insight into the generous heart of God; a foreigner, not one of the chosen, ‘do whatever he asks of you’ Wow!
When thanksgiving, fuelled by a growing grasp of the Lord’s character, as well as remembering all He has done for me, and the rest of faith come together, the expectancy of faith grows. And this faith and expectancy in My Father’s profound love for me, His faithful promises and oh so generous heart towards me will fuel my asking and praying, knowing that I am speaking to Father, Son and Holy Spirit whose generosity outstrips anything we have seen on earth; and they love me to bits.