Arithmetic

“God has a way of giving by the carloads to those who give away by shovelsful.”   Charles Spurgeon (British preacher)
When you look up into the sky on a clear summer’s night, you can see a vast number of stars twinkling and dancing in the distance. Ever wonder why this is called “stargazing” and not “star looking” or “star sighting”? Is it because we can’t help but gaze upon the stars, allowing the scene to take us away from our current situations, challenges...
(what we can see) to the realm of possibilities (beyond what we see and know)?

One definition of stargazing is “the act of seeing subtle details, comparing and contrasting what you see from what you know.” Faith sounds a lot like that, doesn’t it? Abraham (whose name was Abram before God changed it) even had this kind of stargazing faith experience with God. Genesis 15:5 says: “Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, ‘Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!’” When Abraham looked up, how many stars do you think he saw in that ancient sky? There was no pollution, no electricity, no unwanted light to obscure the night sky. Think of how glorious that looked!

Scripture then goes on to say, “And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. Then the Lord told him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.’ But Abram replied, ‘O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?’ The Lord told him, ‘Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’ So Abram presented all these to him…” Even in Abram’s belief, he still asks God how he would know it is true. How did God answer him? God actually doesn’t answer him, but instead asks Abram to give Him something and Abram obeys.

In this way, and time and again in the Bible, God’s principle of multiplication is illustrated. When we put our faith in God and give Him what we have, He multiplies it. Sometimes we see it and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it feels great and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s what it means to live with what Ben called this past weekend, a “multiply mindset”. A multiply mindset is living with an open hand more so than a closed fist. It says, “OK God, I’m going to give you my time, talents, resources and all I have so that You can multiply the impact.” The truth is that we all want more. We want a life that matters and makes an impact, but we have to make the first move and open our hands to give.

Why don’t we? Sometimes we think that our hands are empty, void of anything “valuable” that could be offered. Or we may feel that there won’t be enough left for our needs or our family’s needs if we let it go. Truth is, God is the only one who can simultaneously give us the satisfaction of an abundant life, multiply the impact of what we give and ensure we have all that we need.

The next time the sky is clear, take some time to stargaze and remember how God used the stars to show Abraham, and us, how His arithmetic works.

THIS WEEK’S STUDY IS ABOUT WHEN WE GIVE TO GOD, HE CAN MULTIPLY THE IMPACT.

MONDAY— God’s Principles of Multiplication

Big Point: It’s important to know God’s multiplication principles first.

Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.  -Galileo Galilei

   In creating the earth, God created certain physical laws and principles that we have grown accustomed to through everyday living and through teachings in school.

For instance, you can rely on gravity keeping you held down to earth and you can anticipate the sensations you will feel when you dive under water. We have grown to understand His created laws of motion and states of matter. Not only did God create these physical principles, but He also created spiritual principles that can be held to the same merit and truth and are revealed through His Word. God’s spiritual principles are practical, beneficial and life-transforming for those who choose to know them and then apply them in their lives.

     For instance, as we talked about a few minutes ago, Abraham had to give for God to then fulfill His promise to multiply his descendants. This    principle of give and then multiply is shown again and again and God wants us to do the same, to trust and believe that life increases with an open hand more than with a closed fist, and that the principles He reveals to us in Scripture are at work and real today. Remember the equations from this weekend that remind us of this —if we multiply a number by zero, we lose because we always get zero as the product or end result. Multiply by one, and you have no change. But if you multiply by two or more, you get growth and multiplication.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

God had chosen Noah to build the ark and, along with his family, to survive the flood because Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth before the flood. God had just stopped the rain and allowed the flood waters to recede so they could leave the boat.

Question: What were Noah and his family instructed to do after giving thanks and worship?

Genesis 8:20-9:1 (New Living Translation)

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. 21 And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. 22 As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

9 Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.”

Answer:
The book of Psalms was written for the purpose of expressing praise, thanks and confession to God. If you are given a writing assignment at school, which paper will you do better on: one about something in which you don’t feel a purpose or passion, or one about something in which you feel convicted? Of course, you will do best on the one you feel passionate about! 

Question: What emotion is associated with the willingness to obey and trust Him?

Psalm 112:1 (New Living Translation)
Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.

Answer:

LIVE… What will you do now?
      1. What does “be fruitful and multiply” mean to you? What does God’s new covenant with Noah, his family and all future humans tell you about His character? (Hint: It doesn’t just mean reproduce!) Do you feel you are being fruitful in your life? How can you better allow God to multiply His love and life to others through you?

2. How often do you think “obey” and “joy” appear in the same sentence? How does this tie in with understanding God’s multiplication   principles and then doing them?

3. It takes us fully offering something to God for Him to work with it and bless it to its full potential, beyond what we can see or often     understand. God can take something that seems so small and use it for something huge. Is there a skill or aspect of your life you feel you should offer up to God, giving Him full control and use of it? What can you see as potential fruit from this?

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
Pray for the strength to give everything you have toward multiplying God’s kingdom: spreading the Gospel of Jesus and offering up all of your skills and gifts towards that purpose. Thank God for His ability to use something so small for great purpose.
Watch the VideoDigging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:
Click here to go deeper using the Life Group DVD by the teaching pastor or view the message, including bonus discussion questions.

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Jan Tanis
Jan Tanis

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