Richly Providing All Things to Enjoy

God’s profuse generosity and limitless resources make for lavish blessings.

Babette’s Feast, the acclaimed film set in 19th-century Denmark, is the story of Martine and Filippa, two aged and impoverished sisters living in a house they shared with their father until his death. Babette, a penniless refugee from France, arrives on the sisters’ doorstep, hoping to serve as their housekeeper. Though unable to pay Babette, the sisters welcome her into their home, where she lives with them and volunteers as their cook.

The Pine Tree at St. Tropez, 1909 (oil on canvas), by Paul Signac
 

After 14 years, Babette learns the shocking news that she’s won 10,000 francs in a lottery and can now return to her home and her life. Instead, however, Babette decides to blow the entire windfall purchasing the finest meats, cheeses, and delicacies so she can throw a grand party for Martine, Filippa, and all their friends. When the sisters discover the extravagant abundance of Babette’s sacrificial generosity, they are forever changed.

 

Read Ephesians 3:14-21

Before opening your Bible, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what He wants you to take away from this passage. Then read the section, jotting down your first impressions: What questions do you have? Is anything confusing? Which verses speak into your present situation, and how?

Abundance, a posture of lavish generosity, pours forth from God’s heart. Our Father is not miserly or small, nor does He operate on a shoestring budget. Rather, He owns the “cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10) and longs for the entire world to recognize—and receive—the plentiful provision available from His hand. In Ephesians 3:19 (NLT), Paul prayed that his friends might “experience the love of Christ,” even though this love is so vast and overflowing that “it is too great to understand fully.” God’s love—and all His bountiful blessings stemming from this love—is simply too much to contain, too much to comprehend. Divine love and provision can never run thin; there’s more than enough for everyone.

The apostle prayed that God’s “glorious, unlimited resources” would fill and energize everyone in need (Eph. 3:16). Unlike Babette’s funds, which were exhausted in her extravagant gift, His well won’t ever run dry. Paul insisted that God was able to “accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Eph. 3:20); there is never any worry that when we arrive asking for help, the Lord may have already dispensed all the mercy or reserves He had available.

Divine love and provision can never run thin; there’s more than enough for everyone.

In contrast, much of our culture (economic, political, religious) works off the underlying idea of scarcity—that there’s not enough for everyone so we must grasp and claw to hold on to what’s ours (money, ideals, power). However, the kingdom of God tells a vastly different story. Creation was the Lord’s act of exuberant lavishness—so many creatures, so much beauty, so much more than was necessary for humans to merely survive. Likewise, when God fed Israel in the desert or when Jesus fed the 5,000 or when our Savior hung on a cross as an act of love for the entire world, we again hear the story of immeasurable supply.

Divine abundance not only offers us hope in our many places of despair (which is another way of saying the many occasions where we fear ruin); it also offers us a new way to live in the world: openhearted, generous, and hopeful. The Lord tells us that abundance is the truth of our earthly existence, and we are set free to live in a way that conveys this reality to others.

 

Reflect

Write your thoughts in the space provided for notes or in a journal.

• Read Mark 6:33-44, one of the accounts of Jesus feeding 5,000 hungry followers. Where do you see the interplay of these two ideas: scarcity and plenty? How would you describe the disciples’ initial response? What does the conclusion of the story tell you about the Lord’s desire for all who were there? About all who are hungry?

• Read the opening chapters of Genesis, looking for themes of abundance. What does this introduction to Scripture tell us about God’s heart for the world? Where in the human narrative do you think our path veered from the Lord’s original intent? Why do you think we are now so estranged from our beginnings, so tempted to live from the idea of scarcity?

• Read 2 Cor. 9:8. What do you notice in this text? What is the result, or the overflow, of the abundance God offers us?

 

Respond

• In which areas are you most tempted to view your life or the world through the lens of scarcity? Where do you feel most depleted and in need of God’s provision? Where is it most difficult for you to believe that God is generous toward you or those around you?

• In what ways have you experienced the Father’s overflowing provision? Where can you recognize, in hindsight, that you have received His abundance—but weren’t able to see it at the time? Describe how recognizing God’s inexhaustible generosity affects you.

• How does it change your posture (as you watch the news or balance your checkbook or interact with a neighbor) to see the world in light of God’s abundance rather than under the dim grayness of scarcity?

 

Revisit

• Watch for the prevalent news stories this week. Do they seem to indicate a prevailing view of scarcity or abundance? In what ways does human greed interfere with the Lord’s openhanded provision?

• Consider doing some act for another person this week—one that carries no agenda other than demonstrating God’s abundance. Afterwards, take time to reflect on the experience and what impact it had on your heart.

• Meditate on this truth during the coming days: “My God will supply all [my] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

 

Related Topics:  Reading Bible

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What happens to my notes

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,

15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,

16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,

21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

10 For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills.

33 The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them.

34 When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.

35 When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, This place is desolate and it is already quite late;

36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."

37 But He answered them, You give them something to eat!" And they said to Him, Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?"

38 And He said to them, How many loaves do you have? Go look!" And when they found out, they said, Five, and two fish."

39 And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass.

40 They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties.

41 And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all.

42 They all ate and were satisfied,

43 and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish.

44 There were five thousand men who ate the loaves.

8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

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