There are two main ways of fruitfulness. The story of Hannah and Peninnah effectively demonstrates these two paths. Peninnah is a woman who is naturally successful. She continually gives birth to new children and in pride she points the finger at Hannah because the Lord has closed her womb. The Scripture says, “And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her” (1 Sam. 1:5-6).
I see this happening in the church today. There are Peninnah churches that are very successful and always seem to be adding new members. However their success is from people’s natural gifts and talents rather than something that is sent down from above. People in “Peninnah style” churches are often called on to use their talents for the Lord even though they may not be living sanctified lives. These types of churches will always get puffed up in pride and look down at other churches that seem to have no fruit. They may even go as far as saying to Hannah churches, “Obviously what you are doing is not working. Follow us, we will show you how to be successful.” Yes, it is true that we can apply certain principles to any organization and see it grow; but are these principles meant to be the source of our fruitfulness?
Hannah churches are those churches that are resolved not to bear fruit by their own natural abilities. Of course, God can use our abilities, but our fruit must come from God through prayer. Hannah churches are desperate to see that which comes down from heaven and not what comes from below. They often weep, and even the religious may think they are drunk (1 Sam. 1:14). But really they are heavily burdened for true fruitfulness. Like Hannah they do not even want to bear fruit for their own benefit. They are willing to give their fruit back to the Lord.
What a difficult and radical decision Hannah made when she dedicated Samuel to the tabernacle. After he was weaned, Hannah could only see her son once a year.
It all boils down to this: will our fruitfulness come from our natural abilities or will it come from a divine Word that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh? ‘Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so” (Gen. 1:11, NIV). The fruitfulness was the fruit of God’s Word. Like the third day, all fruitfulness must have its origins in God’s present Word otherwise it will not last––it will only rot in the fields.
Prayer: Father, give us courage to be a Hannah church not a Peninnah organisation. May our fruitfulness come from your Word. May it be sent from above and not be the product of our flesh (natural abilities), in Jesus’ name.