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Generous Spirit - The Mystery of Giving - Session I

Updated: Sep 2, 2023


Church, we start a new series simply titled "A generous spirit". We just completed the series on Prayer, a very important key of the Kingdom of God. It's a discipline that every Christian should live by. Of course, giving is another key, another discipline of a disciple of Jesus Christ.


Church, as we start a new series on giving, allow me to share some statistics on U.K. Giving.


THE BRITISH PEOPLE DONATED £12.7 BILLION TO CHARITIES IN 2022 We estimate that the total amount given in the UK in 2022 was £12.7 billion, increasing from £10.7 billion in 2021. The increase in the amount donated is as a result of people, on average, donating more, rather than an increase in the number of people donating. This record figure needs to be considered in the context of high inflation.


DONATION LEVELS AND ENGAGEMENT WITH CHARITIES HAVE STILL NOT RECOVERED TO PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS Donation levels in 2022 followed a similar pattern to 2021, except for months where donation levels were higher, likely due to the response to the war in Ukraine. The overall level of participation in charitable and civicminded activities in 2022 (84%) is broadly consistent with 2021 (83%) but has not returned to pre-pandemic levels (88% in 2019).


THE COST OF LIVING CRISIS IS HAVING AN IMPACT ON CHARITABLE GIVING Across 2022, more than two thirds (69%) of people indicated they would need to make cuts to their spending to help manage bills, including 17% who said they would be likely to cut their charitable donations. In total, a quarter (24%) of people reported they had made, or were considering making, changes to their charitable behaviours. This included reducing or cancelling a regular charity donation (5%), and choosing not to make a one-off donation (10%).


THERE IS A SUSTAINED REDUCTION IN VOLUNTEERING LEVELS In 2022, an average of 7% reported volunteering for a charity in the past four weeks. This signifies a sustained reduction from pre-pandemic levels (9% in 2019). The proportion of people volunteering in the past 12 months has also declined over time, falling from 16% in 2018 to 13% in 2022. This represents around 1.6 million fewer people volunteering compared to five years ago.


Charities Aid Foundation UK Giving Report 2023



Now let me read you a story.



"The Orchard of Endless Fruits"

In the tranquil village of Elden, there was a magical orchard known as the Orchard of Endless Fruits. Legend said that the orchard would yield fruits endlessly, but only if shared generously with others.

The orchard was owned by a man named Mr. Horace, who was known for his stingy nature. He was so possessive of the orchard that he built a tall fence around it, ensuring no one else could access its fruits. Horace believed that if he kept all the fruits to himself, he would have a lifetime supply and immense wealth from selling them.

Initially, the orchard bore fruits in abundance. Juicy apples, plump oranges, and luscious berries filled its branches. But as days turned into weeks and Horace's stinginess grew, something strange began to happen. The trees started yielding fewer fruits. With each passing day, the once-flourishing trees started becoming barren.

Panicked, Horace sought the village elder's advice, who reminded him of the orchard's legend. "Generosity is the key to abundance," the elder wisely said.

Desperate to restore the orchard's magic, Horace decided to change his ways. He opened the orchard to the villagers, letting children play under its shade and families picnic among its trees. He gave fruits to the needy and even traded some for other goods, ensuring that the village prospered.

As he shared more and more, a miracle occurred. The trees once again started bearing fruits, more abundant than before. The orchard seemed to come alive, with birds singing and a gentle breeze always rustling its leaves.

Mr. Horace learned that hoarding brings scarcity, but sharing and generosity lead to abundance. He was no longer just the owner of the orchard but became the village's beloved benefactor.


The Mystery of Giving

In the church, giving is a mystery and counterintuitive. Read what Pro. 11:24–25 says.

  • Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Proverbs 11:24–25 NLT

  • Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days.

  • Be generous, and someday you will be rewarded. Ecclesiastes 11:1 CEV

Giving is mysterious because it goes against the grain.

Our natural inclination is to keep what we have in our possession, and we think logically that by hoarding what we have, we ought to increase, but the opposite is true. Even if you succeed in hoarding, your money can develop wings and fly away.

  • Will thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle towards heaven. Proverbs 23:5 KJV

God, who created the mystery, unveiled the mystery by giving us a demonstration of its workings. God intentionally and sacrificially gave us His one and only begotten son so that He could have many adopted sons and daughters. We have a profound passage of scripture. I pray that as we work through it this morning, God will unveil it for us and give us a deeper meaning of the mystery of giving.

Please open your bible with me to 1 Kgs. 17.


And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah. And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth. 1 Kings 17:1‭-‬24 KJV


Brief Context

In another cycle of sin, rebellion, repentance, restoration, and sin again, God brought a judgement of famine upon the land through the man of God Elijah in verse 1, and straight away in verse 2, God led Elijah to a place where he was to be sustained. Elijah was supernaturally sustained by the water from the brook and by a raven bird that regularly brought meat to him. Allow me to further lay the foundations of the series by sharing with you five things about the world we live in.


5 foundational things about the world

  1. The world was created and sustained by the word of God, and so all things in the world are subject to the word of God. Elijah made a decree that it should not rain by the word of God.

  2. In the beginning, God created heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1 KJV

  3. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. 1 Kings 17:1 KJV


  1. And of course, there is the natural order of things and the supernatural order of things. The natural order is subject to the supernatural order. You just have to read Job 1 and 2 to realise that the natural world is subject to the natural. The absence of rain here led to famine. God caused the famine by withholding rain. One of the greatest famines in biblical history was the famine in Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh and Joseph.


  1. God determines seasons. He determines times of plenty and abundance, and he can also bring about times of scarcity. And in this passage, there is going to be a time of scarcity until God changes his mind.

    1. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22 KJV


  1. This passage makes clear that even though we live here on earth, we are not bound to the systems of this world. There is indeed an intersection between the heavens and the earth, and we can have access to the supernatural. Elijah had access to a supernatural economic system that ensured that his needs were taken care of supernaturally. Remember that the Israelites were supernaturally fed by manna and quail at one point?


  1. Your relationship with God will secure you in times of famine. We see that Elijah had a thriving relationship with God. He served God, and the word of God came to him.

    1. Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, "As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word! 1 Kings 17:1

Church, as we continue to mine the scriptures, we see the following:

  1. Even though there was scarcity, there were places where there was still supply, and God knew. Church, fear not; God knows where there is supply and where you're going to be taken care of. In this passage, God leads Elijah to a brook where there is still a supply of water.

    1. Get thee hence, turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is, before Jordan. And it shall be that thou shalt drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning and bread and flesh in the evening, and he drank of the brook. 1 Kings 17:3-4, 6 KJV


  1. The key to gaining access to the supernatural is complete obedience to God Almighty. We see here that Elijah did exactly as he was told. He went to where he was sent, and surely the ravens delivered. In the church, there is indeed a commanded place of blessing where you would be fed, and there are people and systems placed by God to ensure that your needs are completely met.


  1. Don't confuse a place or a person as the source of your blessing; it's God. In this passage, the brook became dry, and God, who was Elijah's source of blessing, continued to provide, albeit through very different means.

    1. "Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you. 1 Kings 17:9 NLT

Church Note: The above instructions or commandment were not explicit to the widow, as we didn't read of them or see them in her conversation with Elijah. I suppose God could rely on her generous spirit to do the right thing, and so God sent Elijah to her.

Question: Can God rely on you to do the right thing? We didn't read that an angel appeared to her to give her any instructions, nor did we read that God had in any way spoken to her. Because she has a reliable character of generosity, God knew He could direct Elijah to her.

  • But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity. Isaiah 32:8 NLT

When Elijah got to Zarephath, he saw a widow and made a request for water. The lady agreed to give it, and Elijah asked for a meal. She pushed back, but Elijah insisted, and she complied. You know the rest of the story. What wasn't enough became enough, and both of them were sustained throughout the famine by the meal that was meant for one person. I think you can agree with me that this woman was a generous widow. It's very interesting that the woman "commanded" by God was a widow. Widows in Israel were mostly poor because there was no welfare system in place like we have today.

Giving is mysterious. From this passage, corroborated by other scripture passages, we see the following things that this widow's generous Spirit procured for her. I pray that you would learn from her and implement these principles into your life.

  1. Her generosity confirmed her testimony to God and left her a legacy. Today, we read of her generosity. When you are generous, you will have a testimony before God. Cornelius, a man of prayer who had a generous spirit, also had a testimony before God.

    1. There was a certain man in Csarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one who feared God with all his house, gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. Acts 10:1–2 KJV

  2. Her generous spirit preserved her life. If she had hoarded that meal, it would indeed have been her last meal.

    1. Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Proverbs 11:24–25 NLT

  3. Not only were their lives preserved, but they had enough. As you know, there are many who are alive but in severe need. Your giving can mysteriously lift you out of poverty.

    1. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah. 1 Kings 17:16 NLT

  4. Her giving provoked a word from the Lord that sustained her throughout the famine.

    1. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel: The barrel of meal shall not waste, nor shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah, and she, he, and her house ate many days. And the barrel of meal was not wasted, nor did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah. 1 Kings 17:14–16 KJV

  5. As the story developed, tragedy struck. Her son got sick and then died. God, who knew the end from the beginning, knew that the widow's son was going to die, and so He hatched a plan to have a deliverer embedded as part of the widow's family so that when tragedy struck, there was a man of God who could pray for that family to be delivered. The plan became a reality because of the generous spirit of the widow. Her generosity preserved the life of her son.

Be generous in giving; make giving a lifestyle as God is able, and he shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 KJV

God who is a generous giver wants to give someone here a second chance in life. Rise with me as we close in prayer.




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