Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

The political media has been rambling on about the surge of populism in the world, particularly in the United States and Europe. From the Tea Party and Trump, to the Brexit movement in Britain and the Yellow Vests in France, regular people are irritated and taking political action. Political wheezers and geezers seem perplexed as to the cause, but William Galston of the Brookings Institution summed it up nicely, ““It is now evident that populism draws strength from public opposition to mass immigration, cultural liberalization, and the perceived surrender of national sovereignty to distant and unresponsive international bodies.” The age of instant information unconstrained by the media and political elites has made Mr. Average Guy aware of the ghastly and convoluted inner workings of government and finance, and he doesn’t like what he sees.

I believe that what we see in the natural is always reflective of something in the Spirit. God is doing something in the earth. Powered by the rise of a newly “woke” and empowered “laity,” God is starting a wave that is not yet understood by the “elites.” Luther and the reformers broke free from a millennium of ecclesiastical ossification, restoring the wonderful gift of the new birth through individual faith in Christ. The Pentecostals welcomed the power of the Spirit back to the Church, and the Charismatics opened the door to the Spirit for folks in the denominational pew. Now it’s time to see this power move from the pew to the harvest field. Church is about to go from being a doctrinal lecture, or a vaudeville show, or a motivational speech to being a loose-knit band of individual believers connected by mission, moved by compassion, and orchestrated by an invisible Conductor. The world is being changed. God is behind it. Are you ready?

Somebody Said: Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth. John Wesley

Scripture Reading: God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. 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 12:6-7 MSG)

Every major shift in communication and transportation brings waves of revival as information and locomotion become available to common people. The Reformation rode the printing press. The Pentecostal revival spread by telegraph, local newsprint, and telephone as the message moved around by train and automobile. Television and aviation carried the Charismatic move to the world. The internet and whatever follows have expanded the opportunity for mission to every believer with a smartphone. For us, it means constantly adjusting to deal with the opportunities and the implications as we equip the saints for the work of the ministry. The Genie is out of the bottle. Dust off your sense of wonder at the wisdom and power of our God and let’s do this!

Pastor Virgil L. Stokes
Faith Christian Fellowship of Tucson
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745
www.fcftucson.org
Office: 520-792-3238

Watch the full message Supernatural Mission on our You Tube channel.

De la Abundancia del Corazon

Construyendo personas de sustancia para obras de poder

¿alguna vez has pensado en la idea de que significa la “hora feliz”? pues esa es la hora de las tardes donde muchos establecimientos de comida y bebidas intenta atraer más clientes ofreciendo precios especiales en licores y aperitivos. ¡Piénsalo! Personas reuniéndose sin tener nada en común, solamente el deseo de socializar y subir el colesterol a precio de descuento. Lo más probable es que aprendieron de mirar jóvenes millonarios jugando cosas de niños en la tv, luego gritando al respecto, ¡embriagados! ¡Eso es significado de compañerismo! De hecho, si quieres desperdiciar tu tiempo, trata de ir a una de estas reuniones y abstente de tomar y comer. La alegría de juntarse con tomadores que se la llevan comiendo alitas y todos embarrados de la barba, se adhiere muy pronto a tu estilo de vida.

Tristemente, muchas Iglesias-del mundo atentan con fomentar el compañerismo dejándonos un vacío, como si estuviéramos sentados al final en un bar, al terminar la noche, escuchando a un borracho solitario y desaliñado echándole la culpa de lo miserable que es su vida. Al menos con él, tengo algo de que conversar, el necesita lo que yo tengo, y en un momento de lucidez, puede tener un momento de eternidad. En las reuniones de la Iglesia, la comunión se organiza generalmente alrededor de cosas igualmente coincidentes y sin sentido, y ni siquiera la mitad es agradable. Nos reunimos porque somos hombres y mujeres, mayores y jóvenes, solteros o casados, o alguna otra circunstancia natural y transcendente. Pudiera ser que estas influenciaran las reuniones de hoy en día.

La palabra comunión en la Biblia significa “Koinonia” que quiere decir tener algo en común, encontrando puntos de comunión. Toda la comunidad en el nuevo testamento está basada en las cosas que tenemos en común como Creyentes, estas cosas son:

1. La naturaleza de Dios somos nacidos de nuevo a la imagen de Dios. Por lo tanto tenemos la misma naturaleza de Dios. 2 Pedro 1:2-4 / 1 Juan 3:2 / 4:17

2. El Espíritu Santo en nuestro interior compartimos la maravillosa presencia de El Espíritu Santo que habita dentro de nosotros. Estamos marcados como suyos por su presencia. El mundo no se puede relacionar con esto. Filipenses 2:1-4 / 2 Corintios 13:14 / Efesios 1:13-14

3. El deseo de ser de Bendición a otros disfrutamos de la comunión que nos trae el unirnos y ayudarnos los unos con los otros. 2 Corintios 8:3-5 / Hebreos 13:16 / 2 Corintios 9-13

4. Una misión en común todos estamos aquí por una razón no menos que compartir el evangelio a aquellos que van camino al infierno Filipenses 1:4-6 / Mateo 28:18-20

5. Una pasión en común de caminar en la verdad nuestra conexión humana se basa en nuestra comunión individual con el Padre. Si tu comunión horizontal decae, pon atención a tu comunión vertical. 1 Juan 1:1-7 / 1 Corintios 10: 14-23 / 2 Corintios 6: 14-15

Lucas registro que las reuniones de creyentes estaban dedicadas a la comunión, al igual que a las enseñanzas de los Apóstoles. Ese tipo de celo proviene del hambre por la palabra de Dios la cual se alimenta de la interacción con aquellos en quienes en El habitan. Nunca se pudiera satisfacer con comida ligera, fiestas, eventos deportivos, o círculos sociales. Todas estas cosas son entretenimiento. Y este provee circunstancias compartidas por lo tanto emociones compartidas. Sin embargo estas no son cosas malas, pero siguen dejando al mundo hambriento, comunión es la base para una vida eterna.

Alguien dijo ¿alguna vez has consolado o aconsejado a personas que están sufriendo por alguna relación humana, y les has dicho que Dios es el único que provee esa satisfacción? Pues déjame decirte, la relación de Adán tenía una relación perfecta con Dios, y Dios mismo decidió que Adán necesitaba de otros humanos”. John Ortberg Jr.

Escrituras Bíblicas todos los creyentes se dedicaban a las enseñanzas de los Apóstoles, a la comunión fraternal, a participar juntos en las comidas (entre ellas la cena del Señor), y a la oración. Hechos 2:42 NTV

Estamos compuestos por tres partes: Espíritu, alma y cuerpo, “la hora feliz” en el tiempo de la comunión, solo puede tocar alma y cuerpo, pero para refrescar y renovar el hombre interior necesitamos comunión, basada en nuestra relación con Dios. Compartir nuestra naturaleza, nuestro Espíritu, nuestra misión, y nuestra pasión por nuestra santidad que nos conecta a un nivel mucho más profundo que la cerveza y las alitas. Toma mucho esfuerzo, pero paga muy buenos dividendos.

Pastor Virgil L. Stokes
Faith Christian Fellowship of Tucson
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745
www.fcftucson.org
Office: 520-792-3238
www.pastorvirgil.com

Church Supernaturally: Don’t Try This Alone

The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years.  As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said. When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them…

(Acts 4:21-24 NLT)

I’m often disturbed by Christians who diminish the importance of gathering with the other saints. By confessing Jesus as Lord, we enter into a spiritual battle.  Each of us has a real spiritual enemy who is dedicated to the damnation of our soul and, failing that, will take every effort to immobilize us and prevent us from fulfilling our purpose.  When those attacks come, we are designed by God to have a cadre of other believers, a local church (Gr. ekeklesia – the called out ones), to which we can return to find spiritual nurture and prayer.

Today is Sunday.  I don’t know how you’ve been hammered this week, but if you’re serving Jesus you have had some battles, large and small.  Rather than staying home and licking your wounds, how about trying the God-given remedy of going to the gathering of “other believers” and getting someone to pray for you.  Do not try to do this alone.  

Church Supernaturally: Staying on Message

God has given me the responsibility of serving His church by proclaiming His entire message to you. This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people.

(Colossians 1:25-26 NLT)

As I was cruising through Colossians this morning, I was arrested by this concise statement from Paul. What a great reminder of the job of ministry!

  • I am responsible.  Every one of us has an assignment in the Kingdom of God here on earth.  When we see Jesus, He will hold us to account for what He asked us to do. All Christians are responsible to pray, to give, to be involved in reaching others, and to serve the Body of Christ. Paul knew his specific area of service and understood that it was an obligation, not a suggestion.
  • It’s the message, stupid!  Sometimes in the uproar and dailiness of church life, it is possible to forget what’s important.  Thank God for covered dish dinners and clean rest rooms and printed bulletins and pretty music.  They are all wonderful, but you can buy that entire package at your local dinner theater.  Church without the Word is entertainment, and precious little of that.
  • It’s His message, not mine.  I have lots of opinions, plenty of prejudices, and innumerable personal preferences.  None of these are particularly life-changing.  My one and only job is to present the Truth that God has revealed in a way that is conducive to understanding and application.  I try to be entertaining and erudite, but the message must be His Word and not my best thinking on the subject.

Thank God for His Word. It serves to strip away the ornamentation once in a while and remind me of the substance. 

Church Supernaturally: Last Days Strategy

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

(Philippians 4:5 NKJV)

This verse has intrigued me since I first read it in 1979.  This translation has “gentleness” as the quality we are to demonstrate to others as the Day of the Lord approaches.  The King James Version has it “moderation.” The Amplified Bible says, “our unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). You get the picture. 

In our day, gentleness of spirit is rarely portrayed as a virtue.  Indeed, I have heard much sermonizing that in the last day the Church needs to be bold, or powerful, or morally pure, or biblically sound, or musically professional, or technologically savvy, or family friendly, or whatever.  In fact, these are not all bad things, but the thing Paul emphasizes to his precious Philippians as the Lord’s return approaches is gentleness.  Imagine it on the church sign: “The end of your search for a gentle church.”

As I think about it, I wonder if Paul may have stumbled on a good idea.  In an age where contention, consumption, and continual outrage seem to be the norms, I wonder if a group of people who were genuinely gentle, unselfish, forbearing, and considerate would stick out like a healed thumb. Maybe we are not supposed to out-entertain the entertainers, or out-shout the shouters, or out-politic the politicians.  Could it be that moral outrage is not our most attractive attribute? This Sunday I may give an altar call for the church to act a little more like the fella that said, “Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  OK, Church, now get out there and be gentle!

Church Supernaturally: If…, Then…

 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to Himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.


(Galatians 1:6-7 NLT)
After 50 years of listening to people’s stories, you would think I would have heard it all, but I keep getting surprised. It makes me feel better to know that Paul was shocked by folks in Galatia who were being seduced back into a common form of legalism: “If you’re really saved, you will keep the Law of Moses.”  The essence of legalism is to make salvation conditional on performance of some kind.  Whether it’s circumcision, diet, external rituals, or grandma’s traditions, legalism claims that salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ plus somethin’-or-other.  To quote a recent president’s favorite phrase, “let me be clear”: Salvation is by grace through faith.  Anything else is manmade. 

Now to the other side of the question. In church-world today, I hear folks applying the “legalism” accusation to lots of things that are simply not. Apart from salvation, most of the Bible’s promises have conditions. It is not legalism to report the teaching of Scripture concerning the pre-requites for receiving a conditional promise. Give and it shall be given to you: No give, no receive. (Luke 6:38) If you don’t renew your mind, you will not be transformed and live out the will of God. (Romans 12:2) If you want to experience supernatural peace, then stop worrying, start praying, and get grateful. (Philippians 4:6-7). Hopefully, you get the point. If you’re not seeing the “then” of God’s promise, maybe you’re not doing the “if.”

Church Supernaturally: Christmas Spirit

Happy Sunday!  I always feel as if the first Sunday in December begins the “Christmas Season.”  I used to be a Scrooge about the whole thing, but a few years ago I felt impressed to get myself in a frame of mind to take advantage of the opportunities Christmas provides. I began by making up my mind to say “Ho, ho, ho!” as often as possible.  Then I started looking for opportunities to just be kind to random people.  It’s amazing what a smile and a “howdy” will do.  Finally, I started putting actual Christmas music in our song services at church.  For all of December, let’s sing about the miracle of the Incarnation.

I am starting today with my favorite Christmas song, which is not intended to be a Christmas song.  It’s called “Heaven’s Humility.”  Check out the Chorus:” This is Heaven’s humility,  a Servant’s authority. You set aside Your crown, You laid Your glory down, with heaven’s humility.”

The second verse starts with my favorite line of all time: ” The voice that formed creation became a baby’s cry.” Let’s sing about the God who came into our mess so we could go to His glory.  Merry Christmas!!!  Ho, ho, ho!”

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

The Holy Spirit is an action kind of Guy. In the New Testament He is described as doing all kinds of stuff. He leads folks, falls on folks, descends from Heaven, speaks, teaches, anoints, reveals, and in one very dramatic instance, He translated a guy to a completely different town. That doesn’t even count all the places where He did stuff through the agency of men: prophecy, miracles, signs and wonders galore. Unfortunately, the Person and power of the Spirit in the Church dimmed over the centuries. Slowly but surely, He has made a comeback. He moved from the doctrinal statement to the preaching in the Reformation as His work in conviction of sin and regeneration of sinners began to be emphasized again. Over the last century, His gifts and manifestations have been re-introduced to the Church. We have enjoyed wonderful demonstrations of His power in our services.

Sadly, in many places and in many churches the things of the Spirit are again being relegated to the spiritual closet: “Yes, we believe in that, but we don’t do it in public.” There are many reasons for this, but I want to focus on what I believe is the root: We have allowed the things of the Spirit to remain behind the four walls of the Church. In many instances, we implied that the manifestation of the Spirit was reserved for Sunday, or for “special” meetings, or for cheesy television shows. Spiritual gifts were restricted to the platform to be operated by the chosen few: “These are trained professionals. Don’t try this at home.” Pentecost was reduced from the young men, old men, sons and daughters, servants and handmaidens, all flesh, all-hands-on-deck outpouring of Acts Chapter 2 to a mildly entertaining spiritual vaudeville hour. It is time for believers to be refreshed in their spiritual life, and compelled to take it to the world they live in. The supernatural is our life style, not a Sunday diversion.

Somebody Said: Our passion is to imitate the ministry of Jesus in the power of the Spirit. This requires we must follow Jesus out of baptismal waters, through our personal deserts, and into the harvest. We want to take the ammunition of the balanced evangelical theology with the fire power of Pentecostal practice, loading & readying the best of both worlds to hit the target of making & nurturing disciples. John Wimber

Scripture Reading: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: (Acts 2:17-18 KJV)

I have experienced and seen so much, the scripture is so full of examples, that I can’t just let it go and sit back on the padded pew to offer the occasional “Amen” for a well-crafted homily. So let’s sing another chorus of “Takin’ it to the Streets,” and do away with the idea of “Laymen.” Instead let’s empower the people of God to do the work of God by the power of the Spirit. I have the sense that God is offering us a choice: Will we allow the things of the Spirit to be moth-balled for the museums, or will we decide to be the supernatural church that Acts Chapter 2 envisioned? Status quo is not an option.

Pastor Virgil L. Stokes
Faith Christian Fellowship of Tucson
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745
www.fcftucson.org
Blog: www.pastorvirgil.com
Office: 520-792-3238

Watch the full message Supernatural Mission on our You Tube channel.

De la Abundancia del Corazon

Martes, Noviembre 27, 2018

Construyendo personas de sustancia para obras de poder

En 1983, cuando estaba a punto de salir de la escuela Bíblica, El Espíritu Santo me hablo por medio de hablar en lenguas e interpretación, me dijo, “una vida vivida egoístamente, es una vida desperdiciada, la única razón para el hombre de vivir es traer a otros al plan de salvación de Jesucristo y ensenarles al mismo tiempo a hacer lo mismo. Por esta razón has sido llamado, no lo olvides.” Me gusta pensar que soy fiel a ese llamado, al hacerlo, he dedicado mucho aprendizaje y esfuerzo al trabajo de hacer discípulos, algunas cosas me han sido reveladas a lo largo de los años:

· El discipulado requiere compromiso. Jesús dijo que les Bautizáramos antes de ensenarles (Mateo 28:19) el llamado de seguir a Jesús es muy serio, es un llamado a dejar la vida que conocemos y tomar un camino totalmente diferente, un camino que bien pudiera ser marcado con privaciones y persecuciones, el bautismo es una declaración radical: ¡yo morí con Cristo!

· No puedes discipular a alguien que no esté interesado, y tampoco puedes parar a alguien que si lo este. Puedo hablar, rogar, y engatusar, pero se necesita un trabajo sobrenatural en el corazón del creyente para que acepten pagar el precio. Puedo orar por ellos, instruirlos y amarlos, pero no los puedo cambiar.

· Discipulado requiere que llevemos una vida radicalmente diferente. Jesús dijo, “ensena a estos nuevos discípulos a obedecer los mandamientos que os he dado.” (Mateo 28:20) Él lo hizo muy simple, les dijo que le imitaran en estas dos cosas:

o Amaos los unos a los otros así como yo les ame primero Juan 13:34-35

o Ir al mundo así como yo fui al mundo Juan 20:21

Nuestra responsabilidad es muy simple, hacer discípulos, lo primero que tenemos que demandar es compromiso. Los comprometidos debemos ensenar a amar a Jesús y predicar al mundo así como Él lo hizo. Eso nos debe mantener ocupados hasta el día que El venga, y El prometió estar con nosotros en el trayecto.

Alguien dijo: “reducimos el discipulado a un programa enlatado, y muchos en las Iglesias terminan marginados con una mentalidad de espectador que solo delega el hacer discípulos a pastores y profesionales, ministros y misioneros.” Francis Chan

Escrituras Bíblicas: un discípulo no debiera estar arriba de su maestro, pero todos los que fueron perfectamente entrenados, deberían ser como sus maestros. (Lucas 6:40 NVRJ)

Estas palabras de Jesús me ensenan que la meta de mi discipulado es llegar a ser como El, mi objetivo de hacer discípulos es que habrá muchos más como El: que se amen los unos a los otros, y ser sobrenaturalmente capacitado y apasionado para alcanzar al perdido. Cualquier meta menos que eso, no vale la pena en la cruz.

Pastor Virgil L. Stokes
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745
www.fcftucson.org
Office: 520-792-3238

Church Supernaturally: Incomprehensible Love

I ask God from the wealth of his glory to give you power through his Spirit to be strong in your inner selves, and I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you come to know his love—although it can never be fully known—and so be completely filled with the very nature of God. To him who by means of his power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of: to God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever!  Amen.

Ephesians 3:16-21 (GNB)

As I read this beautiful prayer this morning, I was struck by verse 19, especially the last phrase, “and so be completely filled with the very nature of God.” I’m sure Paul knew that we were already re-created with God’s nature.  I know and regularly profess that I have the nature of God.  He is love, life, light, and truth.  I have His nature, so that is who I am also.  The problem I run into is in those moments when my thinking and emotions don’t seem to be up to speed on the new nature thing.  A thought pops in of someone who hurt me, and love is not my first response. I remember something stupid I did, and I have a “you idiot!” moment.  A twinge of anxiety accompanies some physical hiccup. You know what I mean.

In his prayer, Paul is not saying that my nature isn’t changed, but he is indicating that there is room for growth, in allowing that nature to overtake my whole being, allowing who I am in spirit to flood through my mind, will, and emotions.  Knowing the love of Christ is the fountain from which this fulness flows.  Not knowing about the love of Christ, but knowing His love in a way that transcends mental understanding.  This kind of knowing requires revelation, a work of the Spirit in my spirit.  When my heart grasps the love of Christ words are fruitless, fear is powerless, hate is impossible, and shame is swept away.  I am flooded with Him. 

Join me as we pray this prayer for one another:  “Father, from the wealth of your glory,  give power to ____________________ through your Spirit to be strong in the inner self, ….”  You get the idea. 

Church Supernaturally: Seek the Lord

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.  (Hebrews 11:6 NLT)

In our day, most of us have come to believe that God is a rewarder.  We believe He loves us and wants us to be blessed.  This verse gives us an interesting take on what prompts God to reward us.  We have to believe that He exists: Check. We have to believe that He rewards us: Check.  But notice what He rewards us for: Seeking Him.  What does that mean?

I suspect the phrase “seeking God” paints different pictures depending on our background.  Some see fasting and praying.  Some see reading a daily devotional.  Some see a Christian church, others a yoga studio.  Today is Sunday.  Consider making yourself eligible for God’s rewards: Seek Him.  At the very least, for those who believe in ” the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” that means getting out of bed, doing an attitude adjustment, then heading for the assembly of the saints and listening for the voice of God as He speaks by His Spirit through His Body.  

Check out today’s message on “How to Seek the Lord” 

Church Supernaturally: But for the Grace…

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Galatians 6:1-5 NLT

Many things amaze me as I stumble through life as a Christian and a pastor. One thing that’s been a repeated shocker is the way we approach folks in the middle of tragedy. The brutal truth is that many of us spend a lot of energy judging them, not just for sin, but for anything unpleasant that happens in their lives.  If they are sick and struggling to receive healing, we diagnose their lack of faith. If someone’s kid is wandering away into the world, we assume they did a lousy parenting job. My all-time favorite is watching natural disasters on TV and pronouncing them to be God’s judgment on some demographic or geographic population.

Methinks, God has a different view of our responses to misfortunes and failures. The advice Paul gives us here is pretty good. If you catch somebody in a sin, the goal is restoration, not judgment.  In the face of any person’s distress, no matter the fault, share the load, don’tincrease it. You’re not that important, nor are you infallible. Stay off the judgment seat, it only has room for One. Take care of your own responsibilities. That should keep you busy.  When I stand at Christ’s judgment seat, He will evaluate my conduct, not yours. Part of that judgment, I’m sure, will be asimple review of how I used my opportunities for compassion. There but for thegrace of God…