The Journey, Part 6: Life in the Waterless Wilderness
by Pastor Gene
2 Corinthians 8:1-5
8:1-5 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
- Paul writes that the Macedonians “gave themselves first to the Lord, and then by the will of God to us.” What do you think this means? What does it mean to give yourself “first” to the Lord?
- He continues, “They gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” How are the two connected? How is giving ourselves “first” to the Lord connected with giving ourselves to the Lord’s servants?
- This is not just about giving money, obviously; it’s about giving one’s self. What gave the Macedonians the ability to give “beyond their means” even though they were in the midst of a “severe test of affliction” and “extreme poverty.” Wouldn’t most people in that situation be looking to take rather than to give? And yet, instead, they were “begging” Paul “earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief [effort] of the saints.” What made them so different? What does this say about the decisions they’d made at their very own Kadesh-barnea?
- After leaving Egypt, the Children of Israel traveled to Mt. Sinai where they (1) met God and (2) received His Word. What about you? After you were saved how did you begin to encounter the Lord and learn about His Word? What was that time like for you?
- After they left Mt. Sinai, Moses led them to Kadesh-barnea where they had to decide whether or not to follow God into the land He’d prepared for them. Have you ever come to your very own Kadesh-barnea? What decision did you make there? What’s been the result of your choice?
- What do you think it means to say ‘yes’ to Jesus and enter the plan (‘land’) He’s set before you? What does that mean? What will it look like in your own real-world scenario? What blessings lay ahead of those who choose to follow the Lord closely? What difficulties?
- Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? (Luke 14:28-33).
- Look at Luke 14:33 especially. What did “renounce all” mean to Jesus’ original hearers? What does it mean to us today as Jesus-followers? What does it mean for you specifically?