In the offering portion of church services, the minister in charge of receiving the offering began with having the congregation to pray for an amount to give beyond the usual giving. He stated, "if you hear two amounts, give the largest one." The congregants laughed knowing the comedic personality of the minister. Though I understand now he knew that there were those who listened and adhered to that instruction simply because of him being a man of God. He doesn't know what other people have to do with that money and giving beyond what they normally give could put them in further problems then they already had. Yet, the general statement used when there is concern, "if you take care of God's house, He will take care of yours." Or there is another statement, "if what you received isn't more then enough, sow it into the church, and watch God do what He does." What does that mean? Where is the scripture for that (2 Corinthians 8:11-14 MSG)?
I listened to one of those sermons and to give what was coined as the "destiny seed". It was all I had in my purse to have gas for the next 3 days until my next paycheck. The instruction was to give this seed to the person the Holy Spirit is leading you to give the seed to. There was a woman right behind me that was searching through her purse. I thought she might be looking to get her "destiny seed" and couldn't find anything. I just knew she was the perfect person for me to give her my last $10.00. Now, there I was watching thousands of people giving to everyone else and I was waiting. God knew what was in my gas tank and what wasn't in my wallet. I just allowed faith to do what it does and as it started to calm down and people returned back to their seats, I refused to get discouraged. They must have not seen me sitting way over here. So I waited for church to dismiss and I sat still hoping that God would direct whomever He needed to over towards me. I went to the door to make it easier. It just didn't happen. I stayed so long the parking lot attendants were coming in. There was no one left! No one! Instead of getting angry, I decided to believe it was a seed that needs time to produce.
The following Sunday, the pastor preached about sowing seed into good ground. In it he surmised that sometimes the seed we sow is for the next generation and other times while we are waiting for a tiny bush, God will have us sow seed for a redwood tree. He explained that redwood trees take a while to grow but when they do, they last for hundreds of years. It wasn't one of those sermons that had people excited. They were more then likely thinking the same thing I was, "why didn't you say all of this last week with the destiny seed sermon?" It was sort of rhetorical knowing that if the two sermons were put together, there wouldn't have been the response that there was. That previous week was a tough one and I learned a valuable lesson. During the many services I attended and there was always going to be an offering portion, I already prayed before I got to church. I had my tithes all ready and what my offering would be for the entire week. There wasn't one thing any of those men or women of God could say that would move me from what was already established before I got there. Just as I prayed for the speaker to make sure all that listened would hear the message intended individually, I also prayed for myself and what God would have me to do. I may have been one of the few that didn't run around the church when the prosperity sermons would come up or the prophetic word came about for the New Year, what I did have is the peace that I use to struggle to find in the Word for practical application.
The 23rd Psalm is one of the first passages that most of us learned in Sunday School. For some of us, it didn't mean anything but a means to make some adults proud that we could memorize and retain so much at our age. Nevertheless, once grown and meditating over each verse, there was one part that caused my brow to furrow. "The Lord prepared a table before me in the presence of mine enemies..." The table preparation is understandable. Its provision. Its giving what is needed for us in times such as these. Its the spiritual food we receive when we attend church services and hear the word that is applicable to enrich our lives even more. Some of it tastes better then other parts but its all nourishing - because it is the Lord that gave it. Him being for our good. Now the other part is the quandary. In the presence of mine enemies? Why are they there? Why would I dine in the presence of enemies? Should I be getting them out of there? Wouldn't the Lord have already done that for me? The Word says what communion hath light with darkness, so why are my enemies at the table (2 Corinthians 6:14 KJV)? Who invited them?
In the ministry I was involved in, there was a 24 hour prayer line where I volunteered 1-2 days out of the week. One of those days there was a supervisor that gave me certain tips in shopping for things. We conversed and seemed to be getting along well. During the Christmas season many congregants get together and donate a basket of homemade products for the volunteers. I didn't know this and neither did the supervisor. A few minutes before shift ending the supervisor went to use the facilities. It was a pretty quiet afternoon with very few calls coming in. I was noticing all of the decorations around the room when the supervisor's replacement came in. He announced that the basket behind the desk was for us. In the basket was all of the goodies that were prepared especially for the holiday season. he said to take as much as we liked. As many of the different things that were on display, I choose a nicely wrapped cellophane bag of spiced pecans. Just then my supervisor who had used the facilities came back. She saw all of the volunteers with the goodies that were placed behind her the entire time she was working. She asked what was going on. Her replacement explained that they were gifts for us. My supervisor sucked her teeth in disgust and looked around at what we all had getting first choice, "I didn't know that. You mean I could have got something. All I wanted was the pecans. Who got the pecans?" She looked around and saw me about to open the bag. "Aww, I wanted them." I suppose I could have given them to her, but the whining was irritating me. Instead I asked, "would you like some?" I held the bag to her and she looked at me with a strange expression, "sure," she replied. She didn't take the bag from me nor did she motion for me to pour the contents in her hand, instead she took her hand and dived into the bag making sure I saw her touch each and every pecan before she retrieve a small handful. She smirked slightly putting one the nuts into her mouth and keeping her eyes fixed on me. I know she was either waiting for me to go off on her or reconcile to give her the entire bag. She just came from the bathroom. The other volunteers saw what she did too. They looked at me for a response. I smiled and gathered my belongings seeing that my shift was over. When she didn't see me respond the way she expected, she looked shocked.
In answering the question, who invited the enemies at the prepared table: they were already there. It is written in the last days, there will be many false prophets (1 John 4:1 KJV). The Word doesn't say that there will be many liars. Liars could very well be sinners and what would we care knowing that where that trait comes from (John 8:44 AMP). What we don't expect that the very people that is receiving the same training that we are, have also embraced or not released those old habits that should have passed away a long time ago.
I wrote about a man interested in me before. We had a wonderful first conversation and the second time we were on the phone, he asked what is my favorite sexual position. We attended the same church! His goal was to be a minister! His career was working with children!!! What sort of question was that to ask a Christian woman? I didn't call him or coerce him to call me. He asked me for my number and asked when was the best time to call. My pause spoke volumes and I wouldn't receive another call from him. Can you see what would have happened if I did? Can you see a desperate woman answering that question with him and the trouble happening afterward?
I suppose what I am writing isn't something that is said in any church that I have ever been in. What I am writing to you is for you to trust in God (Isaiah 26:3 KJV). There are many people going through all sorts of things. Just because they have the assignment to be at a pulpit doesn't mean they are always going to give wise instruction. It is why you must read the scriptures for yourself. A single woman, the head of the music department not only leading the choir but also a devotional leader, got pregnant. The congregants struggled on how to treat the matter. I watched them and saw the reaction of the devotional leader. We knew not to be judgmental and also to be kind. There was no need in ousting her from the assembly by which we stand for love. In time, all seemed to be well again. Now what about all of those other girls that watched this devotional leader and have been influenced by her? What about the young men that wished for a wife just like her? Who encourages them? What trouble will they get into?
There are spots. There are wrinkles. There are stains. There is God, prayer, worship, praise, and love. God is looking for a church without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27 AMP). Stains come about when old habits are embraced and it isn't recognized. The stain remover has not been applied. Trouble comes when the Word isn't used. Trouble resides when it is not recognized as being what it is. Life has many decisions to be made. God told us that what we have before us is life and death and for us to choose life. Seeing that we have, the decision pressed before us has the same two choices - for anything and everything. Which ever one we decide will keep us on the path of life rather then lack, trouble, anguish, hardship, despair, irritability, aggravation, frustration and the like? We must maintain peace and joy in righteousness to have the abundant life that was promised - not trouble. Choose life for all decisions and be well.