As we pass the ¾ mark of the fall semester, we want you to know something. We want you to know about the grace of God that has been given among us here at the Bethlehem College & Seminary.
How in a time when our faculty have papers piled high, our administration pass mile 22 of the accreditation marathon, our students linger long in the library, and the arctic avalanche descends upon Minneapolis; God has brought abundant joy by the grace he has given among us!
That grace has taken many forms. It looks like fresh, gospel energy meeting me each and every time I step into the classroom to show the glory of Jesus from every page of history. It looks like the vibrant worship of souls resonating with the gospel frequency in our chapel meetings each week. It looks like hope-laden students unpacking the depths of their hearts to one another and receiving grace in their triumphs and trials.
When God gives a grace among a people, it is something we just have to talk about.
Paul spoke about such a grace given by God amongst the churches in Macedonia in 2 Corinthians 8. Paul told the Corinthians that God had poured out grace upon the churches in Macedonia, producing a remarkable result. God’s grace came down into the Macedonian’s “severe test of affliction,” further identified as “their extreme poverty,” and caused an “abundance of joy” to rise up (8:2a). Let us not miss that God bringing grace results in our brimming with joy, despite the difficulty around us. What a God!
Now, Paul notes that this seemingly uncouth concoction of extreme poverty and joy then “overflowed in a wealth of generosity” (8:2b). Wait, poverty + joy = generosity?! You would think the equation might be something more like: poverty + joy = comfort. But, generosity? Paul records that he witnessed their generosity, “they gave according to their means…and beyond their means, of their own accord” (8:3). Why would they do such a thing? Two answers.
First, they gave generously because of the cause they were supporting. Paul states that they were “begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (8:4). These impoverished benefactors were beggars. They begged earnestly for the favor, for the grace of giving to others in need. They begged to give to gain a grace, namely the joy of loving those in need, which was supremely seen in Jesus who “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Second, they gave to gain a grace of joy in loving their brothers and sisters in need, ultimately, because they had received a grace themselves from God. God gets the credit for their impoverished generosity. He gave the initial grace. He gave them hearts that yearned for an opportunity to give like their Father in heaven, who gave like no other giver could, by giving his own Son over to betrayal and a brutal death on the cross. These Macedonians gave because God gave first. They “gave themselves first to the Lord”, trusting his grace-giving character, which freed them up to give gladly and generously.
Would you pray for God to give you, and all the friends of Bethlehem College & Seminary, grace? A grace that would produce joy and overflow into generosity at the opportunity to give like the Great Giver by “taking part in the relief of the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:4) here at Bethlehem College and Seminary? We are praying. Please, for our serious joy and God’s immeasurable glory, pray.
By grace for his glory and our joy,
Instructor of Christian Worldview
- Pray for God to give a 2 Corinthians 8:1 type of grace to all of us here at Bethlehem College and Seminary as we seek to bring Jesus glory in the final stretch of the fall.
- Pray for our faculty and students who will travel to the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting in San Diego next week. Pray that their papers would bless their hearers. Pray that their fellowship with colleagues old and new would be sweet. Pray for that new friends of Bethlehem College & Seminary would be found, who are eager to partner with us in the greatest cause.
- Pray for God to continue to bless the recovery of our beloved partner in ministry, Tom Steller, from his recent hip surgery.