Waiting for Help

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 9.

So, I admit I’m not very well-versed on the timeline of events regarding the famine in Judea and the need for help among the Jerusalem saints. However, I know Paul was writing to the Corinthians about taking up collections in his first letter. Then he visited them. Now he has written another letter and is still talking about it. He even says he has been telling folks the Corinthians have been ready to give “since last year.” I have to think about this from the standpoint of the saints in Jerusalem. They have been in need for some time. We are talking months, maybe even more than a year. I live in such a fast paced world, I am blown away. A hurricane, an earthquake, a fire, a mudslide hits an area and within two weeks the area has aid. The Jerusalem saints had been waiting for months and months and months. I think about this when I am facing a hardship. I ask God to do something about it and expect a positive response in less than 24 hours. Here were these Jerusalem saints waiting for…well…I don’t know quite how long, but it was longer than 24 hours, likely longer than 24 weeks. I need to remember this as a model for my own patience. God is listening. God is planning to come to my aid (and I’m sure it will be at just the best moment). He will not act on my time table. But He will act. I need to be patient and wait for His help.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 10.

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Blessed are the Poor

Today’s reading is Luke 6.

One of the big mistakes we make when we get to the Beatitudes in Luke’s account of the gospel is to immediately jump back to Matthew’s version of them, decide what they mean there, and then just read it into Luke. Whether these are records of two different teaching events where Jesus said something similar or whether they are two versions of the same event, Jesus clearly didn’t mean contradictory things. However, Matthew and Luke are using them to make distinct, but complementary, points. Matthew focuses on spiritual humility, but Luke really is focusing on financial poverty. However, notice Luke’s good news for the poor, the hungry, the mourning, the despised. His good news is not, as so many try to make it today, a better life now. His good news is not, “Turn to me and I will give you sumptuous meals, fine clothes, the house on the hill, and leisurely retirements.” Rather, it is “Turn to me and I will give you the kingdom of God and your reward in heaven will be great.” In fact, the very thing many today make out to be the reward is what Jesus says the rich, well-fed, merry, honored people have now, and it is all the reward they are going to get. That is not a good thing. Why would we want to make that the great blessing of turning to Jesus. No, this doesn’t mean we ignore helping those around us in need. That is covered when Jesus teaches us to do good and give expecting nothing in return. However, let’s understand what the good news really is. It is so much better than social justice, benevolence, and equity. It is eternal life. It is the kingdom. It is the very presence of God throughout all eternity. The true good news is unsurpassed. And I am unashamed. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 7.

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Impartial Disciple-making Disciples

Today’s reading is James 2.

Disciples love their neighbors, rich or poor. Let’s be shocked for a moment. James was writing to poor Christians. The norm at the time of the Bible was for Christians, for the congregation members, to be in the lower class. How tempted they must have been to bring in more wealthy members to give their group a little street cred. Not to mention, how much help those wealthier members might be to the group in need. Yet here we are in modern America and the norm is middle to upper-middle class with a few outliers on either side of that socio-economic class. Not to mention, the underlying idea most modern American Christians have is if we were really faithful, we’ll get wealthier. If we are not careful, we will subtly have some of this very partiality James warns against and not even realize it. It will just seem normal. After all, poor people must be doing something wrong. Right? Not necessarily. The point of this is not that churches need to have benevolence ministries. The point is if the “normal” church is middle to upper-middle class, we might need to take an inventory of ourselves and make sure we really are being impartial as James encouraged. James was worried about Christians telling the poor to stand in certain places in the meeting places. Let’s make sure we aren’t tacitly, subconsciously telling them not to come in at all. Disciple making needs to be impartial. I know I need work on that. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is James 3.

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