A Beautiful Thing - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas 
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Have you been blessed by one of these "Beautiful Thing" devotionals across these five weeks?  Have you been touched by one of the songs or inspired by one of the sermons?  How has God challenged you as you've been praying about your involvement in the campaign?  You've been reading these daily devotionals -- and now it's YOUR turn!  In this week's sermon, Pastor Tom wants to read as many notes as time will allow.  Write him at tom@hbcaustin.org.
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Hillcrest Baptist Church

Day 4 Devotional (Week 5)
Thursday, May 12, 2011

"But just as you excel in everything -- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us -- see that you also excel in this grace of giving." -- 2 Corinthians 8:7

The example of cheerful Christian giving shown by the Macedonians is an example for all Christians.  When I read 2 Corinthians 8, I am challenged to match the generosity of these first-century Christians, many of whom lived in deep poverty.

For me, however, the first verse of Chapter 8 is particularly inspirational.  Before Paul praises the generosity of the Macedonians, including gifts "even beyond their ability," he establishes the true source of giving:  "And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches."

By giving credit to God's grace as the source of Christian giving, Paul emphasizes that the act of giving is, in fact, an act of receiving God's grace and then sharing it with others.

After being raised in the Baptist church, I went off to college, turned my back on my faith, and lived outside the church for almost thirty years.  As I began to receive God's grace for the restoration of my faith, I knew I would need to change the way I lived, including my desire to hang on to my material possessions.  As a living, breathing "work-in-progress," I still harbor the fear that I will not have enough to see me through.  This is why it means so much to me to watch and be part of a church like Hillcrest as it rises up and receives God's grace through cheerful giving.

I thank God, and I thank all of you for providing an example to a wayward pilgrim returning home.

Gracious Heavenly Father, we offer our thanks for your grace that allows us to show love and care for others and to separate us from our desires for worldly security.  Give us the faith to give cheerfully for the furtherance of your will.  Amen.

Prepared by Jim Steed

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