CONFESSION 2 Corinthians 8

It’s time for me to fess up.  About what?  Something scandalously juicy?  Expecting the worst of me?  Sorry to disappoint.  No murders.  No bank robberies.  At least not yet!

I may not be alone with this, but when it comes to money, I can be a tad squeaky tight.  I’d rather think of myself as determined and focused, careful and prudent.  Others may think of me as a cheapskate, a penny-pinching skinflint, a regular Jack Benny.  Nasty bunch!  By the way, did anyone see that 10 cents off coupon I misplaced?  Or that penny I found in the Walmart parking lot?

Having survived some nasty financial ups and downs (and who hasn’t?) has left me with a few scars.  Excuses?  Possibly.  Probably.  But, cutting myself some slack while looking squarely in life’s mirror, frivolous spending is not in my DNA.

We’re cautious giving to Christian causes.  Appropriate?  I think so.  Must feel comfortable with who or what we’re giving to.  Fraud stories abound, even among God’s folk.

For better role models, read 2 Corinthians 8.  Jesus’ Corinthian followers could never be labeled as tightwads.  They’re described another way–as overflowing in generosity; giving way beyond their means; begging to give more.  Their heart’s in the right place.

Read 2 Corinthians 8: 1-15 for yourself.  See what I mean?  Sound like you or me?  Must speak for me–not quite.  I admit that I’m getting better at giving.  We’ve found Christian mission groups, including our local church, that we love to give to.  Passionately.

Plus, I keep praying to Jesus to increase my giving.  Stretch me… but maybe not too much!  I may never match the description of those bighearted Corinthian believers, yet following their lead is the way to go.

I feel better.  Confession has been good.  Even better for those in need of Jesus’ help…through giving… from me and you.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving all of yourself for me.  Amen.


Sometimes I’ve heard church folk, even a pastor or two, bemoan the meanness of the Old Testament God.  He’s not like Jesus.  Not a chip off the old block, so to speak.  Like we have two gods?  Now that’s skating on thin ice.

Apart from the fact that the word ‘love’ is found more often in the Old Testament than the New (check out a concordance as I did), let’s mosey on up next to the prophet Micah for a moment.  Throughout Micah 7, we hear of the decadence of ancient Israel.  They’re supposed to be God’s chosen people, but they live more like the devil–‘The godly have perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among mankind; they all lie in wait for blood…their hands are on what is evil, to do it well…’ (Mic. 7:2-3).  Nice bunch unless you have to be around them.

Don’t worry–there’s better news!  Beginning at Micah 7: 18 we read about God and how He deals with our sin.  Often, I wonder if I’m stuck with my misdeeds.  Slathered in Gorilla glue.  Fastened tight, never dislodged.   Even worse, does God forgive and forget?  Why should He?  Maybe He’ll throw salt on wounds of my own making?  Holds a grudge forever?  Sounds more like me than Jesus.

What is God like in the Old Testament?  What does Micah reveal?  Read it and find out for yourself.  Would it surprise you that God, here in the Old Testament, pardons His own like a kind judge who dismisses a legal case?  No longer guilty.  Free as a bird.  Then Micah says that the Lord passes over our transgressions because we’re His precious inheritance, not holding tightly onto fuming, angry grudges with too many bones to pick.

All this comes from His character’s commitment to love.  His compassion, toward all who receive Jesus into their hearts, confessing their sin’s neediness, causes God to trample all over our sins until they can’t be seen.  Covered and concealed.   He hurls sin as far away as possible until they splash and sink into far-flung depths of the deepest oceans.  Gone and good riddance.  Is that not great news?

Micah 7: 18-20 reminds us that this loving Old Testament God goes back in time to Abraham, Jacob, and the saints of old.  Going forward we find this same Lord in the pages of the New Testament.  He’s the One who loves you and me.  Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord, and Savior.  The God of the Old and the New Testaments of our Bible.

We’re no longer skating on thin ice but hitting the road with Jesus on solid ground!

Thank you, Father, for all the love you show me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

DON’T TAMPER WITH IT 2 Corinthians 4

New medicine bottles seem easier to open.  Used to be that I’d have to take a screwdriver and hammer to them.  We know why they were invented, but why such heavy sledding?  Someone hears our hue and cry as some newer ones are a smidgeon better.  Tamper-proof caps reduce a toxic outcome for unwelcome hands.

Take a gander at 2 Corinthians chapter 4.  St. Paul affirms that there’s nothing deceptive or deceitful in what he does– ‘…having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.  But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways.  We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word…’ (2 Cor. 4: 2).

Notice that last phrase.  It’s a warning–don’t monkey around with God’s Word.  Stop watering it down, finagling with, or cooking His book.  ‘We refuse to…tamper with God’s Word’ (2 Cor. 4: 2).

So, what does Paul mean?  Does this apply to today?  Does it ever.  Big time.  Here’s where the rubber meets the road in today’s churches.  As in treating God’s Word with reverent respect, diving in with both feet, culling all we can from His revealed and inspired wisdom, adjusting our thoughts and lives to His standards.  As opposed to the other way around.

You can see when churches begin to fail.  They play footloose and fancy-free with the Bible.  Questioning whether God really means what He says.  Condoning what God forbids.  Editing and deleting what they don’t agree with or happen to like.  Only focusing on what they want to hear.  Like that dialogue between the serpent and Eve in the Garden of Eden–“…’Did God actually say…?'” (Gen. 3:1).

So many churches and denominations nosedive into this same dry well while falling down like dominoes, all in a row.   Every new societal trend eventually gets its green light.  Sin loses its edge.  No big deal.  Live and let live.  ‘…Did God actually say…’?  Seemingly without a clue, they lose members every year, eventually blown away, weightless as chaff and dust in a storm of their own making.

Don’t tamper with God’s Word.

Wake up.  Let the Bible get your attention.  Give it a fair hearing.  Then do something about it.  Put it into practice.  That’s good medicine.  Its container is not hard to open.  Not at all.  Try.  Crack open its pages.  It might become your daily bread.

And remember–don’t tamper with God’s Word.

Thank you, Lord, for your trustworthy Word.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

THREE Micah 6

What is God’s will?  Somewhat a conundrum and quandary?  Wish I had definitive answers.  Do you?  Actually, we should.  Check out Micah chapter 6 in the Old Testament.  As plain as the nose on my face.  And that’s ample enough!

I used to agonize over what the Lord’s will was for me.  To do this or that.  Go here or there.  Don’t do this.  Stay away from that.  Don’t even think about whatever.  You’ve done some of the same?  Maybe?  Maybe not?  Then sit back and hear me out.

God’s will can be as easy as pie and as difficult as high-level calculus and differential geometry (like I know what I’m talking about!!).  Micah 6: 8–‘He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.’

God’s will is not all twisted up in inscrutable codes, puzzles, riddles, and brainteasers.  He’s told us three things.  Three.  Not like the mile-thick IRS Code or all the rules and regulations required to build almost anything.  Forget it.  Three.  Need I repeat myself?  Okay–three!

Here they are–do justice, love kindness, and walk/live humbly with your God.  Understand?  Maybe? Maybe not?  Think about what God means.  Chew on that for a bit.

For me, doing justice is doing what’s right.  Not cheating others.  Lying is out.  Being fair even if I must swallow my pride and it costs me something.  Not only talking but doing.  What does doing justice mean to you?

To love kindness means being passionately loyal and faithful.  Loving and kind.  Simple?  Maybe?  Maybe not?  Like standing up for Jesus when the winds of culture roar gale-force against us.  Loving Him above all else.  Or at least with some honest effort in His direction.  He knows how fallible we are.  Comes as no surprise when we waver and fail.  Even still He loves us.  Got it?  I’m trying to.

Walking humbly means giving credit where credit is due.  To God.  Of course, thanking others but knowing from whose hands all blessings flow.  Not forgetting Him.  Not leaving Him out.  Not leaning on my arms more than His.  Stop fixating on yourself for a change.  That’s God’s will.  Plain and simple?

Wonder how we’re doing with what we know Jesus wants of us?  I’m fair to poor on good days.  Yet aiming to do better with His help, which is my prayer.  To do God’s will.  Being just, loving being kind, and living for others especially Jesus.  Giving it the old college try even at my age.  Join me?

Thank you, Jesus, for helping me to follow you better today.  Amen.