{source}<iframe style=”float: Left; border: 1px solid #000000; background-color: #c0c0c0; padding: 2px; margin: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -khtml-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px;” width=”400″ height=”225″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/ll6_1wTPfgk?Rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}Sharonda Coleman-Singleton would be very proud of her son, Chris.  He was interviewed after the Charleston shooting and said, “My mom was a God-fearing woman. She loved everybody with all of her heart … Love is always stronger than hate. So if we just love the way my mom would, then the hate won’t be anywhere close to where the love is.”  Sharonda taught her son well.  He understands what it means to seek the prosperity of God.

The interim preacher at Emmanuel AME church, Reverend Goff, understands God’s prosperity as well.  He told the crowded sanctuary and the listening world, “A lot of people expected us to do something strange and to break out in a riot.  Well, they just don’t know us. We are people of faith.”  He quoted the prophet Isaiah saying, “The doors are open at Emanuel this Sunday, sending a message to every demon in Hell and on Earth that no weapon, no weapon … shall prosper!”

It is hard to imagine that a room of godly people could meet to pray and then die for that choice.  The immediate response of the congregation and the families of those killed has been a testimony to the power of God’s love.  The church has chosen to teach the prosperity of God’s love and strength rather than speak a message of anger or injustice.  The world would have understood their anger but they have been powerfully impressed with their love.  The church has chosen to be a light and a witness for God.

Their grief is real, but they grieve with hope.  God will prosper – he always does.  What is the prosperity of God?  The topic of prosperity is often taught incorrectly by preachers of the “health and wealth gospel.”  There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that teaches we have an ATM God.  We can put money in the plate but it doesn’t mean that we can withdraw a blessing from God as a result.  We can do an act of kindness for someone but that act doesn’t guarantee that people will act kindly towards us as a result.  We can pray and care for the sick but that doesn’t mean God will never allow sickness into our lives.  Our actions do not obligate God’s.

How does the Bible define God’s prosperity?  James preached to the persecuted Christians in Jerusalem and answered that question this way: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).  Paul suffered for his faith daily.  He wrote: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Jeremiah provides my favorite verse about God’s prosperity: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

God’s prosperity, according to Scripture, is that someday the people that love God will receive a crown of life.  The Bible promises that if we will live our lives according to God’s purpose he will take even the dark and difficult times of this life and bring good from them.  Our hope, according to Jeremiah is the constant, abiding presence of God in the lives of those who seek him with all their heart.  

Faith in God has provided me a wonderful and blessed life on this earth.  Most of my friends and family love God.  My social life is usually filled with people who love God.  My work is about God.  I have a wonderful life because I know God and enjoy all that he has prospered in my life.

The question today, for all of us is this: When earthly prosperity is challenged, will we be as faithful as that congregation in Charleston?  If we suffer because we choose to be faithful, will we teach the world that God’s love is stronger than hate?  

The sermon after the shooting was perfect teaching about the prosperity of God.  It came from Isaiah, a prophet to people who were struggling to remain faithful in a culture that was turning from God’s word.  Isaiah said, “no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17).

Every word of grace, love and forgiveness proves Isaiah’s words about God to the listening world.  The Emmanuel AME church has taught us the meaning of God’s prosperity.  If we are wise, we will follow their strong and faithful example.

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