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Generosity and Goodness of God
Joel 2:23-32 (NIV)
23 Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. 24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. 25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you. 26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. 27 Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed. 28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
The Generosity and Goodness of God gives us hope.
1. Restoration for those who have suffered.
I will repay you for the years the locusts… filled with grain; new wine and oil… plenty to eat, until you are full…
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. Psalm 103:2–6 (NIV)
2. Evidence of God’s presence.
Then you will know that I am in Israel
God offers life to us in death, and light in the darkest grave. —John Calvin
3. Blessing for the whole world.
I will pour out my Spirit on all people…Your sons and daughters will prophesy…
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:27–28 (NIV)
Hope Rising is growing hope
- for our lives, our church, our community and our world based on God’s generosity and goodness.
- that breaks into our world in tangible ways to share in deeper relationships with God and others.
- in the God who, in Jesus, rescues and restores, blesses us with unexpected and uncommon generosity, who expects us to be generous and do good, to pour out our lives to bless others.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NIV)
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6–8 (NIV)
Small Group Questions
CONNECT WITH GOD (choose the below practice of listening or a practice from a previous week)
Spend extended time (at least 10 minutes) listening to God through the ancient Christian practice of Lectio Divina.
Begin by choosing from one of the following scripture passages that you would like to read, and begin to ready your heart to enter into a time of extended quiet and listening.
Joel 2:23-32, Psalm 103:2-6, or 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Now, quiet yourself and find a physical or emotional posture that prepares you to listen—to really listen—for God. Do whatever it is you need to do to be still and ready yourself to receive God’s presence.
Read and Listen
When you are ready, begin by slowly reading the scripture you chose. Read slowly, patiently, and expectantly. There’s no expectation that you will finish the passage. You might and you might not—let listening be your only goal. Pay attention to any words, images, or phrases that draw you in or catch your attention.
Next, choose one phrase (or image, idea, or word) that most captured your attention. Hold that word or phrase, meditating on it, and repeating it over and over again. What thoughts, feelings, or memories come to mind? How does it connect to your life? Give pause and attention to that word. As your mind wanders, don’t be too hard on yourself. Give it to God and begin again.
Turn towards God in prayer and tell God about that word or phrase. Be honest while remaining open to what God is saying as you pray. How is God using this word or phrase to draw you nearer to God and transform you?
Now focus yourself on the presence of God with you in this very moment. At this time, contemplate and listen for God by journaling your reactions, re-reading the scripture, drawing, or simply remaining in conversation with God in prayer.
CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER
- In Pairs: read Joel 2:23-32. Spend 5-7 minutes together in pairs. After you read, reflect together on the passage. You might consider the following questions as a jumping off point:
- What does this passage tell you about God?
- What is challenging for you as you read Joel 2:23-32?
- What words or phrases had the most impact on you as you read?
CONNECT WITH SCRIPTURE (Read the passages and review the sermon outline. Then select the best questions or customize the questions for your group.)
- If you haven’t already: Read Joel 2:23-32.
- Read the main points from the sermon outline.
- Discuss together what life might have been like at that time for the people of ancient Israel (following a plague of locusts that endured for years). Imagine the circumstances and context of the ancient Israelites during this period.
- Notice and name the promises of God found in this passage.
- How does God’s abundant generosity compare to the circumstances of the people of Israel at that time?
- What stands out to you about God’s promise in v. 28-29?
- How is God’s promise to pour out his Spirit an abundant reality in our own lives? (Consider reading Acts 2: 1-21 as a connecting passage.)
CONNECT WITH GOD’S MISSION IN THE WORLD (select one question for discussion)
- How are we to respond to God’s faithfulness and abundant generosity in our own lives, in our church, and in our communities?
- In what ways might God’s promised abundance (v. 24-26, v.29) shift your own practice or understanding of giving and generosity?
Spend time praying for discernment, for opportunities to listen for God’s voice, and for lives that are shaped by the promised abundance of God.