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For most of us running into a critic is unpleasant.  None of us like to be object of someone else’s venom, yet someone is doing it to others.  If everyone who dislikes being criticized could  all agree not to do it, we would have the problem licked!

But, since that will not happen this side of heaven, we need to persevere. 

The apostle wanted to verify the love of the Corinthian believers.  He was not forcing others into a competition.  Paul’s desire was not compare believer with his or her fellow believers.  It was simply a desire to demonstrate true love.

Jesus gave the best example of all.  In His grace He, although rich with eternal wealth gave it all up in order to come to earth and give His life for mankind.  His humble sacrifice became our avenue to inevitably enter into heaven.

Furthermore, the Corinthian believers had a generous heart.   Paul wanted to highlight this about their life of faith.  They didn’t drag their feet to give to the needs of fellow believers.

Giving can be thwarted in several ways.  Some never get off of square 1.  Those who do could easily start off enthusiastic but fall away and not finish. 

Paul wanted to instruct the Corinthian believers to give properly.  Giving is wonderful.  Having the desire to do so without coercion from others is outstanding.  Finishing a directive by God to give is indeed a valuable spiritual landmark.

God is never impressed with the amount of our financial gift.  He doesn’t need it.  But, He orchestrates our giving to prepare for us expressing the genuineness of our heart.

The Apostle explains that giving is not a matter of giving up our resources only to be poor ourselves.  Rather we give of our earthly wealth in order to feel right about our life and the pleasure of Jehovah Jireh.  Christians are not socialists but they are concerned about the needs of their neighbor.

It is not a matter of giving until it hurts.  Rather, those who have been born again may now express their gratitude to Christ for their eternal life.  Their giving, nevertheless, was not in jeopardy.  God had supplied them with a bountiful reserve to help others.

God is the ultimate quartermaster.  He will insure that all are cared for and no one will be lacking while participating in the care of others.  It is about sharing not owning.  Wealth is not the picture but contentment is.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

2 corinthians 8.8-15

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The collapsing economic changes have been merciless.  Gargantuan worldwide pressures are like a tsunami in my life.   Every week I am finding myself making adjustments to keep the pressure at bay.

I am brown bagging lunch more often in order to keep faithful to my financial commitments.  This lifestyle shift is actually very satisfying.  Putting some planning and effort into something small to impact something that will last into eternity is a strangely enjoyable change.

Cutting back is also key.  I have already cancelled two trips.  Both were worthy of the time and effort but they would be economic risks that would add even more pressure.  So, I pulled the plug on both.

Spending at the office obvious.  Now, we ask if we have the option to withhold the expense.  We never will stop growing or making changes but we will be very discerning about our expenses.

We question the validity of our training trips.  They must make sense and align with our strategic plan or the approval will not happen.  We in a not-for-profit organization treat every dollar like blood money.  All of us are committed to this value as good stewards of God’s generosity.

One of the other helpful changes is the decision is to lengthen my long-term plans.  This is the year when I would normally schedule a new vehicle purchase.  However, in light of the tough economy I will forego that choice, keep fixing and driving what I have.

This has not been common for me.  Having a dependable vehicle is essential to what I do.  Besides it’s a little bit of fun that spices up life when I climb behind the wheel of a new rig.  Oh, well, life has its good changes and not so good.

My vacation plans are dialed back as well.  We were looking forward to our first vacation to Hong Kong.  But, this overseas trip will have to be put on hold for another time. Some day we will make it to this fascinating destination.

There are other adjustments that I am making as well.  More often than not I choose water as my beverage of choice with a meal.  It’s free or at least it is cheaper than most other drinks.

Some things haven’t quite crept into my routine yet.  We still wash our clothes, shop for soap and fill our cupboards.  Change has come and is still manageable for now.

photo credit: google image

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