We are doing an Advent devotional at our church and this is the entry I wrote for tomorrow:
“Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2).
The story of the selfless giving of the Macedonian church serves an example of what God can do in a gathering of believers. The Macedonian church was going through some intense trials yet they were driven by the Holy Spirit to give beyond their means and give to the suffering church in Jerusalem. Paul writes later that the reason that they gave was because they had given themselves unreservedly to God.
How would our church be different if we all took up our crosses and lived the radical lifestyle of a Christ follower? The Christian life was never meant to be comfortable.
Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary writes, “If we really believed that one day the new heavens and new earth pictured in Revelation 21–22 will be ours forever, we’d stop trying to get everything before we die and be content to wait, using our goods in this life to serve the least, the last, and the lost.”
This Christmas season let’s make the Macedonian church our example of what can happen when we give more than feels comfortable.
Last year we started a Christmas tradition of watching “The Nativity Story” together as a family. Our oldest daughter, Anna, who is in kindergarten is old enough to be inquisitive about everything she watches. She doesn’t act interested when we read the Christmas story but when she watches it on TV, she pays attention. Last night as we watched the movie she had a lot of great questions that led to great discussions. Here is a glimpse at some of the conversations:
- Why were the people in the town mad at Mary because she was pregnant?
- Why did Joseph have his shirt off when he was sleeping?
- Why doesn’t the angel have wings?
- We talked about how Joseph wasn’t the real father of Jesus and how it was a miracle. This almost went into “the talk” but I breezed around it. I’m not quite ready for that one yet.
- Anna made the connection between Zechariah and Elizabeth having a baby in old age and Abraham and Sarah having a baby in old age.
- Anna also made a connection between Herod killing the babies and Pharaoh killing the babies when Moses was born.
I would definitely recommend watching this movie as a family this Christmas. It is one “Christian” movie that I think is well done and accurately portrays some of the realities of Christ’s birth. For kids that grow up in the church, it can make the story come alive in a way they have not seen before. This movie can definitely lead to some great conversations with our children.