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August 20, 2017 The Abundant Supply

The Abundant Supply

 

Scripture readings: Galatians 3:2-6; Titus 3:5-6.

 

[I. Intro] Oscar Stohler was raised in a sod house in western North Dakota and ranched there for nearly seven decades. He never gave much thought to what lay below the grass that fattened his cattle.

When oilmen wanted to drill there a few years ago, Stohler, 83, doubted oil would be found two miles underground on his property. He even joked about it.

"I told them if they hit oil, I was going to buy a Cadillac convertible and put those big horns on the front and wear a 10-gallon hat," Stohler recalled.

He still drives his old pickup and wears a mesh farm cap — but it's by choice.

In less than a year after drilling, Stohler and his wife, Lorene, 82, have become millionaires from the production of one well on their land near Dunn Center, a mile or so from the sod home where Oscar grew up. A second well has begun producing on their property and another is being drilled.

 

Here was a man who never made much in his farming. Just enough to have an old pick-up truck, put food on his table, and make his mortgage payments. For over 60 years he worked hard, never knowing that there was bounty of another kind in his land. His story has been repeated many, many times over with land owners in North Dakota over the past ten years. The experts say that there is more oil in North Dakota than in Texas.

 

Many Christians are like Oscar. They possess a bounty but are unaware of it. Like Oscar, the bounty they have is beyond their understanding.

 

We are born into this world with a sinful nature that compels us to sin. King David says that we are sinful from birth in Psalm 51:5. The Spirit of God awakens some to their condition. They call out to the Lord, repenting of their sins, and are saved. It is all from the Lord. He stirs up faith in our hearts[1] and he is the One who grants repentance.[2]

 

When a person experiences saving faith they receive the Spirit. The Spirit enlivens their heart to believe and, upon faith, then comes to dwell within them. This is the glorious entitlement and reality of every Christian. It is pictured for us in the Lord’s meeting with his disciples right after his resurrection:

 

 

            On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20             When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21             Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22             And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. [3]

 

The first disciples believed that Jesus had risen from the dead and they received the Holy Spirit. When we likewise believe, we receive the Holy Spirit. This is before they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter two. The baptism is, needless to say, of great benefit but this message is not about the baptism. This message is about the indwelling and supply of the Spirit.

 

We initially receive the Spirit by faith. But we need a supply of the Spirit every day!

 

The way we begin the Christian life is by faith. Although we begin this way, as time goes on we have a tendency to look at our own deeds, our own actions – both the good and the bad – and allow them to determine our motivation and even our joy in serving the Lord.  Our perception of God’s favor and the Spirit’s presence and power we think is tied to our obedience. This is what the Galatians thought. But it is not so.

 

We desperately need a supply of the Spirit and we need this supply every day.

 

[II.] We must not look at our deeds. Otherwise, we will not receive the supply.

 

The Lord does not desire just part of us. He desires all of who we are. He does not desire a partial love. He desires, even requires, all of our love.

 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ [4]

 

God is so gracious that, when we fail to love him as we ought, he provides to us another day to begin anew. Each day is a blessed and wonderful opportunity to start life all over again. Do not waste the beginning of your day. Make it the beginning of loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

 

But, what may happen to dissuade us from new power and new life? What does happen? What happens at times is that we awake to a new day but we remember some sin or some neglect of duty that we did the day before and we may think that we are simply not worthy or completely unable to love God with all our hearts and souls.

 

Maybe we spoke harshly to our spouse or to our children or to our parents or to our teacher. Maybe we did something at our jobs that we should not have done. Maybe we drank something we should not have. Maybe we had the perfect opportunity to share Christ with someone we know needs him, but we kept our mouths closed. Whatever it is, we look at what we did or did not do and we get discouraged.

 

If we think this way, we will never receive the supply of the Spirit that we need.

 

Hear what the apostle asks from our reading in Galatians 3:2 –             “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?”

 

We know the answer to this question. We received the Spirit not because of anything that we have done, but by hearing of faith – by believing!

 

Then, in verse 5, Paul asks: Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?

 

The supply is not by “works of the law!” If we think that it depends on our obedience – our works - we will never receive the supply of the Spirit that we need. Of course, we should seek to obey the Lord in all things. This is one of the telling evidences of those who have been born again. They love to obey their Lord and, when they fail to do so, they are deeply grieved. Show me one who does not seek to know and obey the Lord and I will show you one who is not a child of God. They only think they are.

 

I speak of those who are seeking to obey but fail. We are not supplied with the Spirit by doing the right things and neither are we denied the supply of the Spirit by our failures, our sins.

 

I tell you, if you look to yourself, whether good or bad, you will not be supplied.

 

How then are we supplied? That answer is also in verse 5: Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?

 

The supplying  (present tense!) of the Spirit is by faith.

 

[III.] We must exercise faith – simply believe – and we will receive the supply. Do you see the contrast? If we look to our own deeds we will not receive the supply. If we simply believe what God has spoken about the Spirit then we will receive the supply! Amen! The Lord has made it so easy! It does not depend on us. It depends on Him.

 

This is the way to overcome sin, to enjoy the Lord, and to have a new beginning this very day: by simply having faith. By exercising faith, by believing and accepting the promise of the Spirit we receive a greater supply of the Spirit!

 

There was a Christian I knew very well that had many struggles with obeying the Lord. He would go along for a while and then stumble. He would pick himself up and be doing well for a time and then stumble again. This went on for several years. He truly loved the Lord and it grieved him when he would fail him, but there was only a very little progress for several years. Then he heard a message about how available Christ was as the Spirit and how, even after initial salvation, he is made available by faith, not by performance. He heard that the Lord wanted to be our enjoyment and our everything. Once he believed that message there was a effectual change in his disposition and his living. How did that happen? It was the hearing of faith! Believing the message made the truth of the promise come to fruition!

 

We must exercise faith – simply believe – and we will receive the supply. We will have new power and a new beginning.

 

Hear again the second passage we read this morning in Titus 3:

 

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, [5]

 

Everything in this passage is not because of works done by us. The washing of regeneration, that is being born again, is because of the Lord’s mercy. But so is the renewal of the Holy Spirit! It is simply by God’s mercy! And, how has he poured out his Spirit? Richly! Some versions have “abundantly.”

 

The Spirit is poured out on us abundantly!

 

The NIV has “generously.” The Spirit is supplied to us generously!

 

The NET has “in full measure.” The Spirit is supplied to us daily in full measure!

 

It is not just a supply. It is a rich, abundant, “full measure” supply! And, it is all by faith!

 

[IV. Conclusion and Application] We must not look at what we have done or what we haven’t done. Otherwise, we will not receive the supply. We simply believe in the supply and we receive an abundant supply!

 

Someone may say, “I have trouble believing.” Let me end with two short recommendations for those who may have trouble trusting in the promise.

 

[A.] He bestows his riches when we call on his name, that is, the name of Jesus. Romans chapter 10 is about initial salvation and the calling mentioned there is in reference to that. But believers are also to call upon him in time of need. We see this often in both Testaments.

 

He is just as rich to the Christian when he calls upon him as he is to the one who is lost.

 

Romans 10:12 says: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” (ESV)

 

If you call upon him his riches come to you. What are the riches? I have asked this next question before, even several times. I don’t mind asking it again because I want you never to forget it. When you call upon the Lord Jesus Christ, who do you get? Ans: You get the Lord Jesus! You get the Lord Jesus as the life-giving Spirit! (I Cor 15:45)

 

Calling upon him is a verbal expression of faith. When we call, “O Lord Jesus!”, we are saying that our need is not met in ourselves. It is met only in Him. Call upon him now.

 

O Lord Jesus!

 

O Lord Jesus!

 

O Lord Jesus!

 

You can do that anytime. In the morning is especially good.

 

[B.] The other way to stir up our faith is through singing or listening to singing. In both Ephesians and Colossians the apostle Paul reveals that singing hymns is linked to being filled with the Spirit.[6]

 

This week I received some terrible news about one of our children. I was deeply troubled by it. I prayed but I was still troubled. I was experiencing both grief and anger at this child’s behavior. I was at work, but during my break I opened to a beautiful hymn and began singing it by myself. As I sang the peace of God came over me. It enveloped me. I knew that it was the presence of Christ being supplied to me.

 

This is why we begin the meeting of the church with several spiritual songs and we are blessed to have Spirit-filled people leading us! Singing brings the supply because it is our faith verbalized.

 

There is an abundant supply. Don’t be like Oscar and wait until you’re 83.  Receive it!

 

[1] Eph 2:8-9; Acts 13:48; Rom 2:29; Phil 1:29

[2] 2 Tim 2:25; Acts 11:18

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 20:19–22). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 12:30). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Tt 3:5–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6] Eph 5:18-19; Col 3:15-16