Act II: Eager Devotional Guide

Thank you for sharing this devotional journey with the rest of the Andover Campus family.  For the next three weeks we will focus on three things: 1) giving thanks for what God has done in and through Andover these past eight years, 2) discern what God is currently doing and what gifts we have been given to help, and finally 3) invite each of us to join in what God will be doing at Andover.  Some may mistake this month as a capital campaign focused on getting donations.  But if that is our only focus we miss the greater and more important focus of discipleship which is our one and only reason for existing.  To that end, I invite you into a few weeks of intentional focus on prayer, Scripture reading, and listening to God.  I remain convinced that by growing deeper we are on our way to growing wider.  Wider is the fruit made possible by a deep root system.  May we become more and more rooted in the Good News of Christ these three weeks and eternity.
Background to 2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians is a deeply personal letter written to a congregation by it’s founder the Apostle Paul.  Paul planted the church in Corinthian and remained there for a year and a half.  Afterwards, Paul kept in communication through letters of which we have two 1 and 2 Corinthians.  2 Corinthians is at least the fourth letter written to the church.  Paul would eventually return to Corinth for a much shorter period to check on the ministry and encourage the believers.  Paul’s love for the Corinthians was great and so was his expectations for them.  But instead of being heavy-handed and demanding, Paul encouraged by example and invited the people to experience God’s grace more fully.  Paul shows his frustration, his uncertainty, and his sympathy to the people.  This is a candid letter to a trusted groups of friends which is why I have been drawn to making this the focus of our devotional time and teaching time during Sunday morning worship.
The 8th and 9th chapters address an offering Paul will be collecting from the church in Corinth for the believers in Jerusalem who faced great persecution from the Roman authorities.  The people in Jerusalem faced great poverty and therefore the Apostle Paul was raising support from many of the congregations he planted throughout Asia Minor.  The  Corinthians seemed to be a well-off group of folks as opposed to other congregations including the church in Macedonia which is referenced in these chapters.  Paul uses the story of the Macedonia people who were quite poor and yet were giving to encourage the Corinthians to greater acts of generosity.
The word “eager’ is used 10 times int these two chapters to describe the prevailing attitude of the churches and the leadership toward helping.
Devotional for the Day
Scripture:  2 Corinthians 8.1-5
Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters,* what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.  For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers* in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do. 
Devotional Thought:
Paul says that the Macedonian’s did more than he had hoped.  And he references their giving as evidence…but it is not their resources he references but rather their giving of themselves to the Lord and then to “us” meaning Paul and his companions.  It was from this well-spring that abundant joy and generosity flowed.  As we begin this journey of thanksgiving, discernment and getting involved may we first and foremost give ourselves to Jesus our Savior and to one another.  It is from this one act that everything else will flow.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you have told us that your kindness leads us to you.  Thank you for your grace which has brought freedom from our past mistakes and bright hope for our future.  We look to you as our Savior and as our Lord.  Come Lord Jesus and lead us from this place.
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