Church Supernaturally: Don’t Feed the Corpse

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:19-25 NKJV) The idea of “walking in the Spirit” has been much discussed over the years. Paul gives us quite a vivid contrast between following the flesh and living from the Spirit, but how to get from one to the other seems a little dim. Years ago I heard the admonition to “Feed the spirit, starve the flesh.” That sounded pretty good, but still left me wondering about the how-to. Today, as I read this passage again, it struck me how stupid it is to be feeding a corpse. If the old man is dead, why do I keep trying to stimulate him back to life?

In the ongoing battle between flesh and spirit, the winner is almost always the one you feed the most. Feeding the spirit is pretty straight-forward: spend time in the Word, go to a church where the Word is preached, pray in the spirit, worship with your heart, fellowship the things of God with godly people …. I’m good with that. but what does it mean to feed the flesh? Undoubtedly, repeated yielding to sinful cravings strengthens the flesh. I believe, however, that acts of gluttony and drunkenness and fornication originate with inward issues. We feed the flesh on spiritual junk food by watching and listening to media, reading books and articles, engaging in conversations with junky companions, and allowing our minds to chew on junk when we are alone with our thoughts. You are what you eat!

To determine if you’re consuming junk, just print out a copy of Paul’s list on the works of the flesh. Anything you take in that arouses or encourages one of those attitudes or actions is spiritual junk. Spit it out. For example, if I am watching TV and folks start disrobing, I don’t sit and watch like a dope. I turn it off and spit it out. If I am listening to the news and I find myself getting angry and wishing harm toward people I don’t even know, I turn it off and spit it out. If I am at coffee with some Christians and they begin to discuss the failings of another minister, I speak up for him, then spit out the dissension and hatred. You get the idea. Quit feeding a dead man.

Church Supernaturally: Entering Rest

The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was bornin a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of His promise. (Galatians4:22-23 NLT)

Paul used Hagar and Sarai to illustrate the difference between the rightlessness of faith and the righteousness of human effort(flesh).  I wonder how much of what we “do for God” is just us pushing for all we’re worth in our own strength.  If I’m honest, I know when I’m trying to make something happen.  There’s a drive on the inside.  My mind is jumping from option to option with little attention to the atmosphere of my heart.  I just feel like I have to “do” something. Activity is my external cure for internal apprehension.  

Faith is different. When I manage to tap into the promise and let it saturate my heart, I have peace on the inside. The writer of Hebrews said, “For we who have believed do enter that rest…(Heb 4:3a)”  From the position of rest, I can actually do the works of faith: verbally agree with the promise (confession), and obey the promptings of the Spirit (leadings).  The same chapter in Hebrews says, “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest…(Heb4:11)” Almost paradoxically, it takes effort to get to the rest that comes from faith.  The effort that leads to rest includes grabbing hold of the promise by meditating in the Word, speaking the promise when anxieties beset my mind, and praying in the spirit to fortify my heart and quiet my head.  Peace!

Church Supernaturally: A Word in Season

What a joy it is to find just the right word for the right occasion! (Proverbs 15:23 GNB)

I had the privilege this week to be around a group of pastors in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. We are working together to provide Bible training for several churches there. As I spoke with these men and women, I was struck by their heartfelt desire to bring the Word to their people, and to do it well. They look to the Lord every single week to give them jus the right message to impact the lives of their flock. I was again impressed with the importance of bringing fresh manna every time we stand to preach. It is so tempting to listen to a recording or read a book and simply regurgitate what we hear. And, to be clear, the Word will help folks, even if it is just being recited, but fresh bread is always better. It warms the soul in a peculiar way.

I have for years claimed the Scripture Isaiah spoke about the coming Messiah for myself as I face the needs of broken humanity, “The Lord GOD has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned. (Isaiah 50:4 NKJV)” I pray for each minister who stands to speak for God this week, that you will have the tongue of the learned, that you will speak a word in season, that you will no how to speak as you ought to speak. It is a daunting commission, but we have an undaunted God.

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

 

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Have you ever given any thought to the idea of “Happy Hour?” That’s the late afternoon or early evening time when many drinking establishments attempt to draw customers by offering special prices on spirits and appetizers. Think of it! People coming together with nothing in common but a desire to catch a buzz and raise their cholesterol at a discounted rate. They may add to the experience by watching young millionaires playing kid’s games on TV, then yelling about it. Whoopee! Now that’s meaningful fellowship! In fact, if you want to spend a miserable time, try going to one of these gatherings and abstaining from the drink and the food. The joy of hanging around inebriates with wing sauce on their chins wears thin very quickly.

Sadly, many church-world attempts to foment fellowship leave us with the same emptiness as sitting at the end of the bar at the end of the night listening to some lonely, morose drunk assigning blame for the catastrophe that is his life. At least with him, I have something to talk about. He needs what I have, and, in a moment of pigpen awareness, may find a glimmer of eternity. At church gatherings, the fellowship is usually organized around things equally coincidental and meaningless, and not half so much fun. We gather because we are all male or female, old or young, single or married, or some other transient and natural circumstance. These things may or may not promote actual fellowship.

The Bible word for fellowship is “koinonia.” It means to share something in common, finding points of communion. All New Testament fellowship is rooted in the things we have in common as Christians. These things are:

1. The nature of God. We have been born again in the image of God. We have the very same nature that God has. 2 Peter 1:2-4 / 1 John 3:2/ 4:17

2. The Holy Spirit on the inside. We share the wonderful presence of the Holy Spirit within. We are marked as His by this presence. The world cannot relate. Philippians 2:1-4 / 2 Corinthians 13:14 / Ephesians 1:13-14

3. The desire to be a blessing to others. We enjoy the fellowship that comes from acting together to help others 2 Co 8:3-5 / Hebrews 13:16 / 2 Corinthians 9:13

4. A common mission. We are all here for no greater reason than sharing the Gospel with those who are hell-bound. Philippians 1:4-6 / Matthew 28:18-20

5. A common passion to walk in light. Our human connection is predicated on our individual fellowship with the Father. If your horizontal fellowship is lacking, check on the vertical. 1 John 1:1-7 / 1 Corinthians 10:14-23 / 2 Corinthians 6:14-15

Luke recorded that the first gatherings of believers were devoted to fellowship just as surely as they were devoted to the Apostle’s teaching. That kind of zeal comes from hunger for God that is fed by interaction with those in whom He dwells. It can never be satisfied by finger food, parties, sporting events, or sewing circles. All these things are entertainment. Entertainment provides a shared circumstance and perhaps a shared emotion. These are not bad things, but they leave the heart still hungry. Communion is based on things eternal.

Somebody Said: “Ever console or scold people hurt in human relationships that satisfaction comes from God alone? Stop. Adam’s fellowship with God was perfect, and God Himself declared Adam needed other humans.” John Ortberg Jr.

Scripture Reading: All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. Acts 2:42 NLT

We are each comprised of three parts: spirit, soul and body. The “Happy Hour” kind of fellowship can only touch the last two. In order to refresh and renew the inner man we need Fellowship, communion that is based in, drawn from, our common communion with God. Shared nature, shared Spirit, shared mission, and shared passion for holiness bring connection on a level much deeper than beer and wings. It takes effort, even devotion, but it pays rich dividends.

Pastor Virgil L. Stokes
www.pastorvirgil.com
Office: 520-792-3238

Watch the full message, Supernatural Fellowship, on YouTube.

de la Abundancia del Corazon

 

Construyendo personas de sustancia para obras de poder

 

No me gusta ora por peticiones privadas, es extraño lo sé, pero es difícil orar por algo que no sé lo que es. Oración es basada en Fe, para orar en Fe, para estar en un acuerdo necesito saber porque estoy orando, si no sé qué es lo que quieres, no puedo orar por ti. Es probable que tu petición no sea la voluntad de Dios, es ahí donde comienza la Fe. Recuerdo a una mujer pidiéndome que orara por ella porque su esposo le había pedido el divorcio, le dije, no puedo orar por eso, pero si podemos orar por la salvación de tu esposo, si quieres mis oraciones, hazme saber la razón de tu petición, entonces te puedo dirigir en oración. Hay solo una manera de orar que es Bíblico por cosas desconocidas a mí: orando en lenguas, de hecho, Dios nos prepara sobrenaturalmente para que oremos en su perfecta voluntad, incluso cuando no sabemos porque estamos orando. Es uno de los menos entendidos, de los menos practicado, y el más poderoso. Bendiciones de un creyente, aquí hay algunas ideas claves:

  • · Dios diseño un sistema para que nosotros lo desempeñáramos y de esa manera el responda, tenemos que preguntar, adicionalmente, nuestras peticiones deben ser las correctas. Dios sabe lo que necesitas, por eso debes preguntar de acuerdo a su voluntad Santiago 4:2-3/Mateo 6:8
  • Las necesidades no mueven a Dios: Dios no miente, y le dio al hombre dominio propio aquí en la tierra. Él no se mueve a menos que el hombre de su pacto se lo pida. Tito 1:2/ Génesis 1:26/Salmo 8:4-9
  • el intervendrá si se lo pedimos: o si se comulga alguna otra condición de pacto, mirar Génesis 18:16-33 (especialmente mirar del 18-20)/ Hebreos 8:6
  • nosotros tenemos la autoridad, pero Dios tiene el conocimiento. Dios sabe sus planes y el conoce nuestras necesidades, yo no conozco todos sus planes y no conozco todas las situaciones, pero tengo un lenguaje conectado con el pacto a el cual puedo preguntar. Romanos 8:26-27
  • Dios diseño un método: y nos ha dado permiso para trabajar aquí en la tierra, independientemente de nuestra inteligencia o conocimiento individual. Cuando oro en lenguas, estoy hablando con Dios usando palabras que vienen de Dios. 1 Corintios 14:2, 14-15

Alguien dijo: cada vez que Dios decide hacer una gran obra, El primero pone a su pueblo a orar. C.H. Spurgeon

Escrituras Bíblicas: estoy tan agradecido con Dios por el regalo que nos dio de poder orar en lenguas para que de esa manera podamos alabarle a Él, la cual nos dirige a estar en intimidad y así poder estar ante su presencia. Practico esto tanto o más que tu (1 Corintios 14:18 MSG)

Cuando oro en lenguas, estoy orando en el poder desconocido de Dios, pudiera ser para mí, para ti, o para alguien al que nunca hemos visto del otro lado de la tierra. Una cosa es segura, es algo muy importante. La voluntad de Dios incluye el uso de orar en lenguas para el creyente lleno del Espíritu Santo y así establecer sus planes en la tierra.

Dos específicas instrucciones para la Iglesia del nuevo testamento que aseguran el éxito de la voluntad de Dios en la tierra son:

1. No prohíbas el hablar en lenguas. 1 Corintios 14:39-40

2. No te rindas: Efesios 6:18

Hagámoslo!!

 

Doin’ Church Supernaturally: Praying Mysteries

For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. (1 Corinthians 14:2 NKJV)

Being baptized with the Holy Spirit in that wonderful Day of Pentecost experience  moves us over into a new realm of supernatural power.  THE Church today needs that power.  One of the great blessings that goes with this experience is the capacity to speak with other tongues. Because of the great power of speaking in tongues, the enemy of our souls spends aa great deal of energy fighting against it.  Why all the fuss? What’s the big deal about speaking in tongues?

When God created man, He gave him dominion over the earth.  In Adam’s fall, man’s nature changed but the authority given him did not.  Man still has dominion in the earth.  When we pray, we give God leave to intervene in circumstances on our behalf.  When a man or woman in covenant with God stands and speaks His Word or makes petition to Him to intervene, the will of God is released into a situation.  Around the world and in history future are an infinite number of situations where the will of God needs to be done.  Our job is to pray that will into those circumstances.  Unfortunately, we don’t know what they are.  God has provided a way for us to pray His will in spite of our limited understanding.  He uses our mouth and the authority He gave to us to speak HIs will into the earth using words that He supplies.  Genius!

 

Supernatural Sunday: Gifts

Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! (1 Corinthians 12:7 MSG)

Contend for the Supernatural: Is This That?

For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; (Acts 2:15-16 KJV)


At the end of Acts chapter 1 we find the disciples hidden in an upper room drawing names to see who gets to be an Apostle. By the 6th verse of Acts 2 we see a string of amazing events: loud noises, people hearing others speak in their native tongues, and ultimately the believers being accused of drunkenness at 9 in the morning. Peter explains that this is that which Joel prophesied: men and women, young and old, prophesying, seeing visions, and having God-given dreams, the Spirit poured out on all flesh.
What happened? The wonderful and pivotal moment in Acts 2:1-4 when the Spirit was poured out and they all spoke with tongues. That experience is available to all who believe. If we want to see the Book of Acts kind of Church we need the Book of Acts kind of experience. It’s time to take the Baptism with the Spirit out of mothballs and begin to preach it and model it again. It’s what moves us from timidity and religious form into “This is That.”

Revive the Tithe: This is a Test

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in My Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put Me to the test!  (Malachi 3:10 NLT)

Ten is the number of testing and judgment.  When God asks us to bring the tenth to the storehouse, He is giving us a test just as He did with Adam in the Garden of Eden.  At the same time, He says that when we tithe, it is a test for Him.  We put Him to the test!  God always passes His tests.

Supernatural Sunday: Heaven or Hell

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16 NKJV)

Contend for the Supernatural: Church Supernaturally

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 NLT)  

There has been considerable debate over what the early church looked like and even more over whether that’s possible today.  Here in Acts 2 we see the first time that believers began to gather regularly as followers of Jesus Christ.  They worshipped together, they devoted themselves to the Word and to each other.  They obviously didn’t have a church growth handbook or a denominational manual.  In spite of that, they impacted their community in a powerful way  The key ingredient? They did church supernaturally.  They worshipped, studied, and fellowshipped in the power of the Spirit, and as a result the community responded.

Revive the Tithe: Worship With Your Tithe

“and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O LORD, have given me.’ “Then you shall set it before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God. So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the LORD your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you.  (Deuteronomy 26:10-11 NKJV)

Under the Law of Moses, the tithe was a part of worship.  Worship means to ascribe worth to someone or something.  The act of bringing the tithe is  away of demonstrating in a tangible way how much we value the Lord.  He is worthy!