Graham Thompson - Nurioota, New Zealand - Second Part of First Meeting, May 10, 2004

My thoughts have been guided to the gifts that God wants to give to us and the need there is for us to be ready to receive them. I might read a little from II Kings 4. It has the story of a woman who was a widow. Her husband had been amongst the prophets but she was left a widow with two sons. A creditor was going to take them to be bond men because of her debt. She came to speak to Elijah and he said to her, in verse 2, "What do you have in your house?" She said, "Nothing but a pot of oil." Then he said, "Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou hast come in shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full. So she went from him and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out. And it came to pass when the vessels were full that she said unto her son, 'Bring me yet a vessel.' And he said unto her, 'There is not a vessel more.' And the oil stayed.”

I might read in Ephesians also, about Paul's prayer for God's people, 3:17, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height. And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory  in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world with out end. Amen."

I was remembering a man in my first year in the work in the area we were in. Jim Curtis was his name, telling us his story. He began serving God as a young man and before his teens he had known nothing of God's truth. He heard the Gospel and his heart was won. He was telling us how that he delighted to read the word of God and he said, "I used to be thrilled because every now and again I would find there some nice little thing." He said, "I often wondered; almost feared what would happen if these nice little things ran out." By the time he was telling us this, he was an old man, and he said, "I'm still finding nice little things in the Word of God." Not deep things; not complicated things; just nice little things, and they fed his soul and gave him joy in God. It caused him to give thanks to God who kindly gave him those nice little things, and he had lived all his life from his teens to his old age, and God was still giving him these nice little things from the word of God. The thought seemed to appeal to me that with God there will always be more; there will always be more.

I wondered if there is in me the right kind of heart that will allow God to continually give the gifts, because with God there is always more, but perhaps we are inclined to limit the scope that is given to God to do His work and increase His gifts within us. In the 4th chapter of Ephesians, Paul writes there, going on and he spoke about the measure of the gifts that Christ has given to every man - the measure of the gift of Christ. We know that what is in Jesus is without measure and it is not possible to find out any limit, because there is no limit, but there is a measure in what we limit. No measure of what is of God, but a measure is imposed by ourselves, or imposed by ourselves upon God and what He desires to do and what He desires to give. We could be missing a little perhaps of the fullness of His gifts, and I couldn't help but feel how possible it would be that something so wonderful as Christ Himself, given by God without measure; without any limit into the human vessel, yet perhaps God finds that we imposed a limit on what we allow Him to do.

We have been hearing a little from Psalm 81 already, and down a little further in another verse it says, "... who brought you from Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it." I've been familiar with that verse for quite some time, but I must say this. The emphasis seemed to be on the words, "Open your mouth wide." Not just open your mouth but open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. God is desiring to fill it and God is not wanting to hold back His hand, but I wonder are our mouths - to use the expression; is our mouth as widely open as He would like it to be? Like a hungry little bird, and about all you can see is a wide open beak. Just yearning for the food that is coming to them - open your mouth wide.

We've heard already from Malachi, didn't we? In that same book God speaks to His people trying to encourage them to give Him His place and His honour, and to find the joy that He means them to have in doing that. He said, "You have been robbing Me; you have been robbing Me by withholding what is Mine." He said, "You bring the gifts and the offerings and you prove Me with that, whether I will not open the windows of Heaven and pour you out a blessing that you will not have room enough to receive it." We are glad, aren't we? That we can have confidence in God, That He is a God who pours out a blessing through the open windows of Heaven; no stinting; no holding back in His pouring out; no measure; no shortfall. He knows that the measure will be; the limit will be, whether there is room; room given for this wonderful gift. He desires to pour out His blessing, but there must be room to receive it. He says, "I'm willing to give without holding back, and I can give more than you will allow Me to give."

This story we read about Elijah and the widow woman. He said, "Go and borrow vessels; you make room for this thing that is going to be poured out," and he added those words, "Gather not a few." Don't scant; don't feel that there is going to be any limit to what is going to be poured out. It's a wonderful thing, isn't it? That our God is such a God and the abundance of what He provides, that we can set our heart; our desires; our purposes without limit; our expectations without limit, and He will never fail us. What He supplies will never be less than our expectations, and it will never be less than our need. For with God there is always more and He is wanting to increase this gift upon us. Not only once or sometimes but continually; there will be a continual increase. Our God and what He provides will never fall short of any expectation that we have, no matter how high it would be. Gather not a few, so she began to pour out; pour out. Another vessel until finally she said, "Hand me another one," but there is no more. 

As much as this story is wonderful; as much as this story is a miracle, there is a little sadness there. If only there was another vessel, it would have been filled, if only there had been another five; another twenty vessels, they would have been filled. Did you notice that when there were no more vessels to fill, then and only then, the flow of oil ceased; the oil stayed. There wasn't anything on God's part that stopped the flow of the oil; she wasn't left holding an empty vessel with some kind of despair that somehow the flow of oil had ceased before the filling was complete. "Give me another vessel," there was not another vessel, and the oil stayed. I felt it was encouraging me to give God room; give God my heart without limitation, and give Him my life without limitation, because the limitation will only ever come from our own selves; and when there is not another vessel the oil will stay. That's the manner of the giving of our God; there is no measure.

There is another story in the Book of Kings about a widow again. Perhaps the widow is chosen to convey the message to God's people, that she would speak to us of need. She speaks of a soul who is desolate and needing someone to help her from the kindness of their heart. The servant of God was sent to the widow of Sareptah and she had been commanded by God to sustain him. Remember how he found her, out gathering a couple of sticks, and she said, "I'm just going to make a little fire and make a little cake for me and my son, then we'll eat it and die." He said, "You go and first make for me a little cake," but before this he said, "Thus saith God, 'That little barrel of meal that you have; the little meal in the barrel it won't run out and the little oil that you have in your vessel won't run out until the day that God sends rain on the earth.'" So she went and did according to the word of the man of God and she proved the miracle of the promises of God never failed her. I very much like the promise that the prophet was able to make because of the bountifulness of God's provision. He said, "That little measure of meal that you have and the little oil in the cruse." He didn't say, did he? "Well, God will double or maybe multiply it fivefold; ten times or whatever." He didn't know how long it was needed, but the promise was, "God will provide for you all the days of your need," be it a week; a month; a year; two; three years; all the days of your need, He will provide for your need until the day that rain comes on the earth. No limit set; no date; no quantity set. He said, "You are going to find in God a miracle provision for your need; as long as you have need and faith." That is the measure of the giving of our God.

In John 3:34, it tells us about God giving His Spirit not by measure and perhaps in this Bible, we are accustomed to using it may seem to give the impression that it applies just to Jesus, but in fact the original writing doesn't limit it to that application. You will find in this Bible the words, "God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him", and those words "unto Him" are in italics, supposedly for clarity, but in fact, authorities tell us that in the original language there is no such limitation intended. In other words, it simply means to say, "God gives not the Spirit by measure." He doesn't give it by measure; not limited; not restricted in scope what He is able to work within us of the gift. It's not restricted in what He is able to teach us; it's not limited in the way He is able to empower us and quicken us; it's not limited. God gives not the Spirit by measure.

In those verses in Ephesians that we read, he said, "I want you to be proving the length and the breadth, the depth and the height of God," not suggesting that somewhere we would find a limit or a further extent of those directions, but rather encouraging them to explore; explore further; to go deeper; go further so that God will go further and increase within you His gifts and continue them. Continue finding new depths in your hearts for the things of God.

In the first chapter of James, he encourages any who lack wisdom to ask God. "God," he said, "gives liberally and upbraideth not. He said it will be given," but he said, "Ask in faith, not wavering, for anyone who wavers is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and tossed," then he added these words, "Let not that man think that he shall receive anything from God." Wouldn't it be a tragedy if we have known God; and knowing the liberality of God; how great His storehouse and how open His hand; how ready to give and to pour out? Even as we would ask, the greatest tragedy would be that we would make ourselves those who would receive nothing from God. It seems to speak to me so forcibly, that man will not receive anything from God. The God who is able to give; God who desires to give; God whose heart is liberal and He gives to those who lack and He doesn't upbraid; He doesn't rebuke us for our lack or feeling of need but rather it gives Him pleasure when we think of our need and He delights in those who trust in His mercies. It brings pleasure to God the great giver when His people; His little children; His needy children come to Him; they come to God and He will kindly give to them.

He is ready to give, but it says, "Let not that man think that he shall receive anything from the Lord," not anything to a wavering man. We were hearing, weren't we? About those who were addicted to Godly things and we would desire to be single mindedly seeking something; being driven to seek something; stopping at nothing to obtain it and that's what we know are signs of addiction, aren't they? Being driven and to stop at nothing to obtain it, and I wonder how single minded are we; how undivided we are in our seeking of the increase of Christ within us, or are we seeking to compete? Are our minds driven by the wind and tossed in every way, and perhaps sometimes seeking and desiring things of God; yet perhaps at other times being driven in some other direction; wavering; desiring with a wavering heart; a wavering purpose, we need to have that single minded undivided heart when seeking the things of God, because if we do not have it, Satan will discourage us from that purpose; not wavering, it would be possible to waver, wouldn't it? If we begin to understand the way that God would answer our prayer, and the means by which He would choose to increase the gift within us, and even the kind of faith that works patience; an increase within us of that faith and trust in God, it would be possible perhaps to waver a little, we understand that there is a cost and everything that is in us, is worked and accomplished by the Spirit, it is a victory; it's a victory for God, and it is a victory that has been won at the expense of everything else; it's been won at the expense of everything else that would compete. It is a victory that has been won because other things have been put down.

Victory, and God is wanting to increase His gift within us; continually increase that gift within us, so that the increase is a victory; the result of a battle and the defeat of something else; of the things that compete, we don't want to waver, do we? Imagine what would happen in the field of battle if there were a wavering purpose; a shrinking from the battle or the battle cry; if purpose; a shrinking from the battle or the battle cry; if there were a divided loyalty, or if there were a question about the direction of battle, imagine what would happen on the field of battle. The victory of God within our lives is when there is no dividing of our loyalty; no question of God's purpose; no doubt in the one who is leading us; no hesitation in responding to the battle cry that leads us to the place where God can triumph within us; no wavering.

"Let not that man think that he shall receive anything from God." I felt God was causing me to ask myself, "God is so ready to give it, how ready am I to receive? HOW open is my heart to Him? How freely do I leave my life in His hands? How willing am I in the steps that I would take according to His leading?" because if there is ever going to be a limit, the limit will be in me.

I was noticing too in Matthew 19, that there are some things that Jesus spoke there about marriage but I'm not going to say anything about that today, but I was thinking about what the disciples said when Jesus discussed this teaching with them, and it was very obvious that they recognized that the teaching of Jesus was of a very high standard and that perhaps some would not be willing to accept it. Jesus spoke about those who withhold themselves for the kingdom of Heaven's sake. Then He went on to say, but before that. He said, "Not all men can receive this saying which I have given." Afterwards He said, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." All men cannot receive this saying, and I was thinking a little bit about what would prevent a person from receiving a saying, or at least it seems to indicate that Jesus said that some couldn't receive it. In fact some would be not willing to receive it, but we know don't we? That some are not willing to receive the teaching of Jesus and accept the standard His teaching teaches and gives to us, is not because of any partiality on the part of God, for God is not partial, and it's not about anything being unequal with God or the dealings of God, for God is not unequal in His dealings. When Jesus said, "Not everyone is able to receive it," it doesn't mean to say that here it will only apply to some and not to others. No one can say that here is a teaching that some cannot accept or cannot obey because wih God there is no partiality; no inequity, what God does. He does for all; it would be for all, and what God asks. He asks of all; what God teaches. He teaches to all.

Jesus said, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it," He was saying, wasn't He? That in the heart of some there will be something that will rebel against the teaching of God; that shuts their heart against the teaching of God, and they render themselves unable to be led; they render themselves unable to be taught; they render themselves unable to obey. Nothing impartial about God; nothing unequal about anything that God does, but there is a difference what is in the heart of one man to another man; one person to another person, there is a difference in how far we are willing to receive the things that God gives. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Another time that Jesus was speaking. He was speaking about John the Baptist and again I don't intend to speak about that particular theme, but He said, "If ye will receive it, this is Elias who was for to come." If you will receive it, I am telling you, and I speak what is true and I'm telling what is right and, if you will receive it, you will understand. If you will receive it, you win put no limit on whatever God desires to do or to give. The lack will always lie with ourselves and the question is, "If you will receive it." God gives liberally and desires to pour out through the open windows of Heaven, blessing that has no measure; that has no end. May God help us to be willing to, give Him all the room; give Him all our heart; all our life; holding back nothing; close our heart at no time; hesitate at no time, but be open to Him that He may continually increase within us the gift. In those verses in Ephesians that we read, "That ye might be filled with the fullness of God." It goes beyond our comprehension, doesn't it? To understand all that God is wanting to do, even in our own lives. The fullness of God; filled with the fullness of God. He will fill; He will fill with Himself; with His Spirit, with His life divine, and Jesus Himself has paid. May we leave ourselves fully open and single mindedly; single heartedly seek that increase within us. So that we may ever be proving greater and greater depths within the heart of God. Amen.