Friday, December 10th
This devotion is the written accompaniment to a video Advent message that can be viewed on our YouTube Channel by clicking HERE.
Today with a message for December 10th. We are coming near the halfway point of Advent with a thought and a message from the scripture today or something for our minds to be thoughtful of. I'm reading from 2nd Corinthians chapter 9, so I invite you to hear these words from The New International Version.
“There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
I only get four minutes or so and already two and a half minutes in just reading the scripture today. The brief version is that Paul was writing to the church in Corinth to remind them of an offering that was needed for the church. The church had already promised to give that offering but he was sending some people in advance to remind them of that offering that they have the opportunity to give graciously. That's probably one of the most challenging things at times it is giving graciously not with the sense of obligation but as has Paul would say a God loves a cheerful giver. Sometimes we disguise that cheerfulness to hide things like pride or arrogance, “look at how much I'm giving” and sometimes we use it to get down on other people, “you should you should be giving with a cheerful heart!” But there's so much more than that and I think one of the key passages in this is actually verse 11: “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
As we think about that and our spiritual life and our walk with Jesus Christ, God's grace and God's love in us was meant to be a gift beyond measure. The kind of gift in this generosity reflects and God's incredible and infinite love for each and every one of us. And in the world that we live in today. I am a firm believer that the world is desperate for a church, for Christians who believe in a God of infinite love and are our generous with that love with the world.
Now Paul's writing about this church in Corinth, this body of Christ, he's writing to people to care for other people to the gift of money, but I think in our world today is so much more than money it's the love that moves us to do things like share with generosity; to have compassion on others. In a world that is broken and divided seemingly on every edge, the world is desperate for people of faith who are willing to hear God’s call on their life based in the invitation of Jesus Christ. It is an invitation so deeply sourced in love; an invitation which we’re about to celebrate in just a few short weeks in Christmas. Its an invitation of a God who loves us so much that his own Son took on the vulnerable form of a child that he might live into our world and love into our world.
As Disciples of Christ we claim an identity statement that states: “we are movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” I believe that that movement starts in us, it starts with love and it starts with the God of infinite love pouring into us so that we may be generous and compassionate on every front. Its time to answer the call. The world needs us.
Allow me to offer a quick prayer blessing:
Gracious and Almighty God send us to be your people, but do not send us ill equipped. Send us filled to overflowing with love that we may truly be your children sharing the infinite bounties of your generosity and Grace with the world, in your Holy name we pray, Amen.
Submitted in grace,
Rev. Timothy McCollum
Bazetta Christian Church, Cortland