Thursday, July 21, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Read: 1 Corinthians 4:14-20 and Psalm 119:129-136

St. Paul has just written about how he has been in need, and the Corinthian church has not supported him as they should have. He isn’t pointing this out to bring shame to them, but to let them know they need to do the right things from now on. What is more, Paul sent his trusted associate, St. Timothy, to them to help them accomplish this goal. Paul then warns them not to get prideful, as though Paul is too weak or busy to come – Paul is coming and will set things right when he gets there.

The Corinthian church supporting Paul was quite similar in idea to United Methodist churches paying their conference askings (commonly known as “apportionments”). This money is collected by each annual conference and is used to pay for things on the conference and denominational level, such as the expenses of the conference, the salaries of the Bishop, district superintendents, and support staff, the starting of new churches, training events for local pastors, missions (local, national, and international), resources for local churches, and so on. If we are required to tithe our income, why shouldn’t the local church also tithe? It is no longer “my” money or “your” money once the bills hit the offering plate. God does not allow us to take back that which we have freely given. It belongs to God, and it is our responsibility to make sure that we meet all our obligations. Further, the United Methodist Church is a connectional church. This means that there are not 792 different churches in north Alabama, but that there is one church that meets in 792 different locations. We have a responsibility to the other congregations to help support the conference, which then helps support us.

Take a few moments to consider this. Does your congregation pay all the conference askings? Is there grumbling and complaining about it? Do you understand what it means to be a connectional church? How has God spoken to you through this? Write your own prayer.

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