Day 86

The Fullness of the Blessing

Wisdom Psalm 37:21–31
New Testament Luke 6:12–36
Old Testament Numbers 21:4–22:20


Mother Teresa once gave an interview to Hello! magazine. She was asked the question, ‘Is it only the affluent who give?’

She replied, ‘No, even the poorest of the poor give. The other day a very poor beggar came up to me and said, “Everyone gives to you and I also want to give you twenty paisa” – which is about two pence. I thought to myself, what do I do? If I take it he won’t have anything to eat, but if I don’t take it I would hurt him so much. So I took, and he was so happy because he had given to Mother Teresa of Calcutta to help the poor. Giving cleans the heart and helps you get closer to God. You get so much back in return.’

Generosity is not just a nice character trait that people have. It is right at the heart of what our faith is all about. C.S. Lewis defined Christianity as ‘a kind of giving’. God has poured out his generosity to you in Jesus (John 3:16), and you are called to respond in faith and generosity to others. Each of the passages today is about blessings and curses. The key to the fullness of the blessing is generosity – ‘the righteous give generously’ (Psalm 37:21).


Psalm 37:21–31

21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
   but the righteous give generously;
22 those the LORD blesses will inherit the land,
   but those he curses will be destroyed.

23 The LORD makes firm the steps
   of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
   for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

25 I was young and now I am old,
   yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
   or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
   their children will be a blessing.

27 Turn from evil and do good;
   then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the LORD loves the just
   and will not forsake his faithful ones.

   Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
   the offspring of the wicked will perish.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
   and dwell in it forever.

30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
   and their tongues speak what is just.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
   their feet do not slip.


Be generous, always

Some people in life are ‘givers’ and some are ‘takers’. According to David, this is a key difference between the ‘righteous’ and the ‘wicked’: ‘Wicked borrows and never returns; Righteous gives and gives. Generous gets it all in the end’ (vv.21–22a, MSG).

Generosity is not an occasional act; it is a way of living. The generous are ‘always generous and lend freely’ (v.26). The Lord delights in those who live like this (v.23). You may hit problems and stumble but you will not fall (v.24). God’s promise is to bless you and your children (vv.25–26).

In today’s world, we are confronted by many ‘children begging bread’ (v.25). The bigger picture of this psalm is a vision of the entire people of God upheld by the practice of mutual generosity: giving and receiving. It was the people who followed God in generous giving to the poor that would find that their own needs were met when things took a turn for the worse. Whether financially, or otherwise, the rest of the community would support them in their need.

Today, we are aware of great need both locally and further afield. God’s will for all his people is to uphold one another by ‘[giving] generously’ (v.21). Take every opportunity to give generously and you will experience the fullness of God’s blessing.


Lord, thank you for the amazing promises you make to those who give generously. Help me never to be satisfied with the level of my giving but always to seek to become more generous.

New Testament

Luke 6:12–36

The Twelve Apostles

12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Blessings and Woes

17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

20 Looking at his disciples, he said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.

23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Love for Enemies

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.


Be generous to everyone

Jesus spent the night praying to God. He was filled with insight as he chose his disciples. He was also filled with power to heal the sick: ‘and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all’ (v.19).

Jesus contrasts those who accumulate for themselves (the takers) and those who have generosity of spirit (the givers).

There is an emptiness about the way of life which involves becoming ‘rich’, being ‘well fed’, with lots of superficial laughter and gaining a good reputation (vv.24–26). It leaves people feeling ultimately dissatisfied and ‘hungry’ (v.25).

The way of blessing is totally different. It is the way of generosity. It may involve poverty, hunger, weeping, being hated, excluded, insulted and rejected (vv.20–22) – but it is a way of satisfaction (‘You will be satisfied’, v.21) and joy (‘You will laugh’, v.21).

Jesus calls us to be generous towards our enemies: ‘Love your enemies... If someone grabs your shirt, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it... No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously’ (vv.27–29, MSG).

Be generous to everyone; ‘Give to everyone’ (v.30). This is an attitude of generosity, ‘without expecting to get anything back’ (v.35).

As always, Jesus is only calling us to imitate the generosity of God: ‘Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never – I promise – regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind’ (vv.35–36, MSG).

Generosity towards your enemies means not only to forgive them but also to bless them. You must not speak evil of them even if you think they deserve it. You are to pray for them, bless them and speak well of them. As Nelson Mandela put it, ‘Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for your enemy to die.’ Instead, like God, be generous to everyone (v.36).


Father, help me to love my enemies, to do good to those who hate me, to bless those who curse me and to pray for those who ill-treat me. Help me to be merciful, just as you are merciful.

Old Testament

Numbers 21:4–22:20

The Bronze Snake

4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8 The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

The Journey to Moab

10 The Israelites moved on and camped at Oboth. 11 Then they set out from Oboth and camped in Iye Abarim, in the wilderness that faces Moab toward the sunrise. 12 From there they moved on and camped in the Zered Valley. 13 They set out from there and camped alongside the Arnon , which is in the wilderness extending into Amorite territory. The Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. 14 That is why the Book of the Wars of the Lord says:

“. . . Zahab in Suphah and the ravines,
the Arnon 15 and the slopes of the ravines
that lead to the settlement of Ar
and lie along the border of Moab.”

16 From there they continued on to Beer, the well where the LORD said to Moses, “Gather the people together and I will give them water.”

17 Then Israel sang this song:

“Spring up, O well!
Sing about it,
18 about the well that the princes dug,
that the nobles of the people sank—
the nobles with scepters and staffs.”

Then they went from the wilderness to Mattanah, 19 from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20 and from Bamoth to the valley in Moab where the top of Pisgah overlooks the wasteland.

Defeat of Sihon and Og

21 Israel sent messengers to say to Sihon king of the Amorites:

22 “Let us pass through your country. We will not turn aside into any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the King’s Highway until we have passed through your territory. ”

23 But Sihon would not let Israel pass through his territory. He mustered his entire army and marched out into the wilderness against Israel. When he reached Jahaz, he fought with Israel. 24 Israel, however, put him to the sword and took over his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, but only as far as the Ammonites, because their border was fortified. 25 Israel captured all the cities of the Amorites and occupied them, including Heshbon and all its surrounding settlements. 26 Heshbon was the city of Sihon king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken from him all his land as far as the Arnon.

27 That is why the poets say:

“Come to Heshbon and let it be rebuilt;
let Sihon’s city be restored.

28 “Fire went out from Heshbon,
a blaze from the city of Sihon.
It consumed Ar of Moab,
the citizens of Arnon’s heights.
29 Woe to you, Moab!
You are destroyed, people of Chemosh!
He has given up his sons as fugitives
and his daughters as captives
to Sihon king of the Amorites.

30 “But we have overthrown them;
Heshbon’s dominion has been destroyed all the way to Dibon.
We have demolished them as far as Nophah,
which extends to Medeba. ”

31 So Israel settled in the land of the Amorites.

32 After Moses had sent spies to Jazer, the Israelites captured its surrounding settlements and drove out the Amorites who were there. 33 Then they turned and went up along the road toward Bashan , and Og king of Bashan and his whole army marched out to meet them in battle at Edrei.

34 The LORD said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have delivered him into your hands, along with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon. ”

35 So they struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army, leaving them no survivors. And they took possession of his land.

Balak Summons Balaam

22 Then the Israelites traveled to the plains of Moab and camped along the Jordan across from Jericho.

2 Now Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites, 3 and Moab was terrified because there were so many people. Indeed, Moab was filled with dread because of the Israelites.

4 The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field. ”

So Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, 5 sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, who was at Pethor, near the Euphrates River, in his native land. Balak said:

“A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. 6 Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.”

7 The elders of Moab and Midian left, taking with them the fee for divination. When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said.

8 “Spend the night here,” Balaam said to them, “and I will report back to you with the answer the LORD gives me. ” So the Moabite officials stayed with him.

9 God came to Balaam and asked, “Who are these men with you?”

10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message: 11 ‘A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.’”

12 But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed. ”

13 The next morning Balaam got up and said to Balak’s officials, “Go back to your own country, for the LORD has refused to let me go with you.”

14 So the Moabite officials returned to Balak and said, “Balaam refused to come with us.”

15 Then Balak sent other officials, more numerous and more distinguished than the first. 16 They came to Balaam and said:

“This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me, 17 because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me.”

18 But Balaam answered them, “Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the LORD my God. 19 Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the LORD will tell me. ”

20 That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”


Be generous – like God

Again in this passage we see the theme of blessings and curses (22:6), and the contrast between ‘taking’ and ‘giving’. We see God’s continuing generosity to his people. Their life was not easy. If you have been a Christian for any length of time you have probably experienced times like these. They went through the ‘desert’, the ‘valley’ and ‘wasteland’ (21:18–20). This could be seen as a picture of life’s trials; dry patches, low spots and seeming fruitlessness.

But God gives water (v.16). Jesus said, ‘whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life’ (John 4:13–14).

By contrast, Sihon was not a giver. He was mean: ‘Sihon would not let Israel pass through his territory’ (Numbers 21:23).

Balaam was also a taker. He was after ‘the fee for divination’ (22:7). He is condemned in the New Testament because he ‘loved the wages of wickedness’ (2 Peter 2:15). Balaam’s ‘error’ was to ‘rush for profit’ (Jude 1:11).

The Israelites themselves grumbled against God and against Moses (Numbers 21:4–5). Despite all that God had done for them, they were not satisfied and rebelled against him. Their rebellion could not go unchecked, and so God initially sent judgment on the people (v.6). God’s ultimate plan though was to redeem and bless his people, restoring their relationship with him.

They confessed their sin and ‘the Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived’ (vv.8–9).

Speaking of this incident in the desert Jesus said, ‘Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him’ (John 3:14–15). Jesus is referring, of course, to his death on the cross (12:32–33).

God, in his generosity, provides the sacrifice that enables you to know forgiveness. The uplifted snake in Moses’ day brought physical life to those who looked in faith. The uplifted crucified Christ brings eternal life to anyone who looks in faith and believes in him. You cannot earn forgiveness. Eternal life is a free gift, but you still have to choose to accept that gift. Believing is an act of the will that accepts the free gift of God (3:15).

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was one of the greatest and most influential speakers of the nineteenth century. He described his own conversion when, as a teenager, he heard a speaker say, ‘Look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but to look and live.’

‘Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me… When I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away... and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to him.’

This is the generosity of God. Your call to be generous stems from God’s generosity to you. As the apostle Paul writes, ‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’ (2 Corinthians 9:15).


God, thank you for your generosity to me, in providing a way back to you. Help me to look to you daily for forgiveness. Help me to drink in deeply your water of life that sustains me. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Pippa adds

In Numbers 21 we see that life for the people of God doesn’t seem very easy. They didn’t spend their days having fun playing in the sunshine. There were difficulties everywhere; hunger and thirst, aggressive neighbours and now snakes! (Not my favourite.) As Mark Twain once said, ‘Life is just one [darn] thing after another.’ God doesn’t seem to take our difficulties away, but he is with us in them and he does help us come through them.



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Nelson Mandela cited in Phil Cousineau, Beyond Forgiveness: Reflections on Atonement. (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass 2011) p.139.

‘Interview with Mother Teresa’, Hello, Issue 324, 1 October 1994.

Lewis A. Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, Kregal Publications, 1992, p.23.

The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel (commentary formerly known as Bible in One Year) ©Alpha International 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Compilation of daily Bible readings © Hodder & Stoughton Limited 1988. Published by Hodder & Stoughton Limited as the Bible in One Year.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers.

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