Revive the Tithe: One Omer per Ephah!

The Israelites ate the manna for forty years until they arrived at the land where they would settle down. They ate manna until they reached the border into Canaan. According to ancient measurements, an omer is one-tenth of an ephah.  (Exodus 16:35-36 MSG)

The tithe is permanently ensconced in the heart of God.  It is in Him, and so are you.  I am passionate about the power of connecting with the heart of God through the tithe.

Contend for the Supernatural: Don’t Get Sidetracked

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8 NLT)

 

The world we live in is full of distractions.  In addition, the Church tends to get us focused on things that don’t matter much.  The whole point is that Jesus Christ is alive from the dead.  We have been given the Holy Spirit to demonstrate that reality.  Don’t let yourself get moved to the side track.  Stay on the mainline.

Sunday Blessing: Let Us Pray!

Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.  (Acts 12:4-5 NLT)

Curmudgeon Alert: Abortion DoubleSpeak

curmudgeion 2 280by200        Curmudgeon: – a crusty, irascible, cantankerous old person full of stubborn ideas. (The Free Dictionary)

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” George Orwell

I normally don’t respond to stupid things people post on Facebook, because I would rather have a genuine discussion than a name-calling, salvation-questioning argument in hastily crafted mini-thoughts. On this occasion, however, there was a local political candidate who somehow managed to find his way to my feed with a promise to “stand up for women and their reproductive rights.” For some reason, the double-speaking disingenuousness of that term just irked me. I responded, “Let me clarify. By “reproductive rights,” do you mean the right to have an abortion at any time and for any reason, then expect me to pay for it?” No one ever answered my question.

The last time I looked, the right to reproduce was intact. In fact, maybe a little too much so in some instances. Folks are reproducing just fine, whether they can afford it or not, whether they are emotionally prepared for it or not, and whether they have a suitable co-parent or not. (Notice I am not even demanding a father, just some reliable help) You see, reproduction is not the issue. Abortion is the issue. Sadly, for the majority of abortion supporters, the real issue is sex. Abortion provides the out for those who want to be free to have intercourse without fear of consequences, or the weight of responsibility.

I would argue that when the time comes to decide about abortion, reproduction has already taken place. No one is seriously doubting the right of a female to have sex outside of marriage, to conceive a child in any way she chooses, or to use birth control measures to prevent said conception. The only “right” at issue is her right to end the life of the child in her womb at any time and for any reason, and in many cases expect the tax-paying public to fund the procedure. Whether I agree with that position or not, I at least want to be clear as to the meaning of the term.

My concern extends to the due process rights of the pre-born child. I get that the child is currently living in the body of its mom. (Who invited the child in in the vast majority of cases) But does that disqualify him or her from having a hearing before having his or her life terminated by force. Is it justice to allow a woman in great stress to unilaterally decide the issue? Under what circumstances is the taking of life justified? There may be some. I don’t know. But we can’t have the conversation if we continue to rely on  Orwellian doublespeak. Reproductive rights? I don’t think so.

You created every part of me; you put me together in my mother’s womb. 

(Psalms 139:13 GNB)

 

Contend for the Supernatural: Give ’em a Demo!

And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever He chose. (Hebrews 2:4 NLT)

The Gospel we are commanded to proclaim is a very remarkable story.  In fact, it sounds more like a fairy tale.  Yet we are commissioned to reach others by getting them to believe it.  I know it’s real.   But in our under-churched and over educated age, how do I get even a fair hearing about a Jewish carpenter who rose from the dead?   Instead of arguing, I believe we are better off to demonstrate.   Thank God, we have a Helper!

de la abundancia del corazon

Respetemos la primera enmienda, Amigos.

“el congreso no hará ninguna ley con respecto al establecimiento de una religión o prohibiendo el libre acercamiento de la misma; o restringir la libertad de expresión, o de la prensa; o el derecho de las personas de reunirse pacíficamente, y de solicitar al Gobierno una reparación de agravios.” 1era enmienda de la constitución de los Estados Unidos de América.

Como la temporada de elecciones esta sobre nosotros, pienso en mi responsabilidad como creyente de elegir candidatos en cuestión, no en la Fe fingida o partidaria, siempre me voy por defender los problemas morales, geopolíticos de una vida en santidad y familiar, el matrimonio y el trato hacia el Estado de Israel. Esto es muy importante, durante la última década, cada vez me preocupa más este tema que es fundamental: la preservación de la primera enmienda de la constitución de los Estados Unidos. Nuestra constitución es muy importante porque sirve para restringir al Gobierno Central. La primera enmienda se refiere exactamente a estos términos: esto es lo que el Gobierno no puede hacer, estas restricciones no pueden ser anuladas por el Congreso, decisiones de la corte, o decretos ejecutivos, en adición, a menudo nos referimos a nosotros mismos como una democracia, eso no es del todo cierto, somos una República, Gobernados por una Constitución. Queriendo decir que aunque la mayoría de la población vote en contra, no pueden quitar los derechos constitucionales. Esto evita el llamado “tiranía de la mayoría”. Para alterar la constitución, una enmienda debe ser propuesta por el voto de dos tercios de ambas cámaras del congreso o por una convención convocada por el congreso a petición de dos tercios de los legisladores Estatales. La ratificación de una enmienda toma tres cuartas partes (38) de los Estados para aprobarla, es un proceso intencionalmente difícil. La primera enmienda está bajo un gran ataque, ha habido algunos esfuerzos legislativos para frenar la libertad de expresión y religiosa ( el llamado “discurso de odio” viene a la memoria) pero las peores amenazas vienen de los tribunales y de los anarquistas/ socialistas que se infiltran en las reuniones y alzan sus voces bajo carteles de “justicia social” y “prevención de odio” , vemos como campos universitarios se convierten en lugares donde las opiniones se oponen por parte de la administración, la facultad, y las multitudes no se pueden expresar, en adición, muchos medios de comunicación evitan y/o se niegan a hablar de temas específicos, particularmente temas Cristianos. Con estas cosas en mente, te animo a que leas la primera enmienda de la constitución, lee la posición de los candidatos acerca de la libertad de expresión y vota poniendo estas cosas en oración. Por ejemplo:

· “el congreso no hará ninguna ley con respecto a ninguna Religión o prohibiendo a ejercer la misma”. Nota que no dice “libertad de Religión” algunos confunden ese lenguaje queriendo decir “puedes hacer lo que quieras en tu servicio religioso, pero no lo hagas público fuera de las cuatro paredes de tu Iglesia”. La libertad para ejercer mi Fe me da el derecho de ejercer lo que mi Fe requiere de mí, siempre y cuando no hiera materialmente a otra persona ni traspase sus derechos. Puedo hacer estas cosas públicamente, enfrente de mi casa, o en mi tiempo libre en la escuela o mi trabajo. Eso es importante cuando decido llevar mi Biblia al colegio, orar en lugares públicos, poner un anuncio que Cristo vive en la puerta de mi casa, o expresar una opinión que va en contra de la sociedad ortodoxa, también tengo el derecho de negarme a participar en la locura de los demás, aunque su comportamiento sea legal, pero está en contra de mis creencias. Vote por aquellos que votan por proteger y permitir que ejerzamos nuestra Fe.

· “o reduciendo la libertad de expresión”. Todo discurso, especialmente político y religioso, es protegido, eso incluye cualquier mención que decida hacer acerca de nuestro Señor Jesucristo. Poder hablar de Él en los supermercados, o en redes sociales, o en las escuelas, poder vestir camisetas o poner calcomanías en nuestros carros que mencionen su palabra, tener el derecho de declarar mi oposición por comportamientos ajenos a la palabra de Dios, aunque otros se ofendan. Lo hare, ya sea que este permitido o no, pero nuestra constitución todavía promete esa protección. Recuerda, Fe viene por el oír, vote por aquellos que prometen proteger nuestros derechos para predicar.

· “O el derecho de la gente de reunirse pacíficamente y solicitar al Gobierno una reparación de agravio”. Las personas que se manifiestan en grupos para gritar a otras personas en un restaurante no son manifestantes, son agresores. No hay derecho a destruir la propiedad de otras personas en protesta por la política del Gobierno. En el momento en que lo haces, te has movido de una protesta pacífica a un motín revolucionario, cuando las protestas se convierten de pacificas a violentas, es un crimen, deben ser juzgados. Cuando los protestantes empiezan a hostigar a los ciudadanos en la privacidad de sus negocios legales, los participantes ya no están pidiendo al Gobierno, están cometiendo un crimen civil de hostigamiento y amenazas, deben ser juzgados. Vote por candidatos que ejercen la ley.

Alguien dijo: suprimir la libertad de expresión es un error doble, viola los derechos de los oyentes como también de los oradores. Frederick Douglass
Escrituras Bíblicas: y ahora, Señor, mira sus amenazas y concede a tus siervos que con todo denuedo hablen tu palabra ( Hechos 4:29).

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

De la Abundancia del Corazon

No nos conformemos, Amigos.

El último párrafo del capítulo de Hechos 1 dice: “fueron llamados a ser Apóstoles. Matías fue escogido y se unió a los 11 Apóstoles. (GW)” los siguientes versos (Hechos 2:1-4) representar la venida del Espíritu Santo para capacitar a la Iglesia para testimonio. Dentro de algunos versículos más, los mismos hombres que fueron llamados a ser Apóstoles voltearon la ciudad al revés con el poder del Espíritu Santo. La nueva versión del Rey Jacobo dice: “! Esto fue lo que fue hablado por el profeta Joel!” estoy seguro de que nunca volvieron a mencionar nombres. Mi pregunta es, ¿Quiénes somos en nuestra Iglesia? ¿Estamos siendo llamados? ¿o nos estamos conformando? Cuando somos bautizados con El Espíritu Santo, cae el poder de Dios sobre nosotros para hablar en lenguas, para profetizar, para derrotar al enemigo, para sanar al enfermo, para predicar la palabra de Dios en tiempos de persecución, una Iglesia supernatural es una Iglesia que hace cosas supernaturales.

En Hechos 2:42-47 vimos al primer grupo de creyentes que fueron bautizados con el poder del Espíritu Santo y levantaron una Iglesia juntos. Nuestro desafío: si no avanzamos, ¿Cómo vamos a permitir el poder sobrenatural de Dios que fluya en cada una de las áreas en nuestra Iglesia hoy en día? Aquí hay cinco puntos que la Iglesia hace, y menciono solo algunos fragmentos cortos de cada uno de ellos, y lo veremos venir en días venideros.

· ALABANZA Efesios 5:18-19 todo creyente tocado por Dios, unificado e impulsado por el Espíritu Santo, cantando y alabando con nuestro corazón al Señor.

· ORAR 1 Corintios 14:2/ Romanos 8:26 redescubran el increíble poder de la oración en el Santo Espíritu.

· HACER DICIPULOS Mateo 28:18-20/ Romanos 1:9-12 más que programas educativos, encuentros de impartición, no solo información, sino transformación.

· COMPANERISMO Hechos 2:46/ Hebreos 10:24-25 construyan relaciones que se miren más como familia, manteniendo en común una vida de Fe.

· EVANGELISMO Y SERVICIO Hechos 11:27-30/ Marcos 16:15-21 oír la voz de Dios y recibir de su poder para evangelizar y cuidar de nuestros hermanos, siempre confiando en sus fuerzas, no en las nuestras, predicar de la resurrección para cambiar al mundo.

Con el riesgo de parecer un poco loco, pregúntate a ti mismo, ¿Cómo se miraría mi Iglesia sin electricidad, si no hubiera deducción de impuestos, si el Gobierno penalizara Fe, los hospitales fueran cerrados y las farmacias estuvieran vacías? La respuesta te dará una mejor idea de lo que la Iglesia es en realidad.

ALGUIEN DIJO: “la Iglesia por mucho tiempo ha sufrido persecución, nos hemos conformado en vez de buscar el fuego del Espíritu Santo, nos quedamos boca abiertos al pensar en nuestra propia cruz, nos desmayamos solo de pensar en el sufrimiento y sacrificio que esto implica, creyente, es tiempo de buscar el fuego de la presencia de Dios, es el fuego el que purifica nuestro sacrificio.” Francis Frangipane

Escrituras Bíblicas: porque el reino de Dios no es nada más palabras, si no vivir por medio del poder de Dios. (1 Corintios 4:20 NVT)

Se necesita un milagro de resurrección para comenzar la Iglesia, y se requiere un milagro de nuevo nacimiento para ser parte de ella. El Espíritu Santo cae sobre nosotros para darnos poder, no para tener mejores reuniones, si no para derrotar las trampas del enemigo y rescatar al cautivo que está en esclavitud. La Iglesia no se hizo de personas transformadas que tuvieron que morir y resucitar para un nuevo propósito en sus vidas, no nos conformemos con un club social o un plan de mercadeo, cuando podemos transformar al mundo. “yo creo que esto es y será”.

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

Revive the Tithe: The House of God

He named that place Bethel (which means “house of God”), although the name of the nearby village was Luz. Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if He will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the LORD will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything He gives me.”  (Genesis 28:19-22 NLT)

We find plenty of evidence of the practice of tithing prior to the Law of Moses.  Abraham did it.  Here we find his grandson, Jacob, making a vow to tithe, if GOd keeps HIs promises of protection and provision.  He seems to connect the idea of the tithe with coming back to a place he considers to be the house of God, a place where he had a personal encounter with the Almighty.  He connects the act of tithing to the act of worship.

Sunday Blessing: Haulin’ Water

The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived. (Isaiah 35:6-7 NLT)

Out of the Abundance of the Heart: Election Time

 

Let’s save the First Amendment, Amigos.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Amendment 1. Constitution of the United States of America

As election season is upon us, I find myself thinking about my Christian responsibility to choose candidates on issues, not party or feigned faith. I always attend to the familiar moral and geopolitical issues of the sanctity of life, marriage, and treatment of the state of Israel. Those are very important. Over the last decade I have become increasingly concerned about a more fundamental issue: The preservation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Our constitution serves the important purpose of constraining the central government. The First Amendment is stated in exactly those terms: here is what the government cannot do. These restrictions cannot be overridden by acts of Congress, decisions of the courts, or executive decrees. In addition, though we frequently refer to ourselves as a democracy, that is not strictly true. We are a republic, governed by a constitution. That means that even a majority vote of the population cannot take away constitutional rights. This prevents the so-called “tyranny of the majority.” To alter the constitution, an amendment must be proposed by two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by a convention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of the state legislatures. Ratification of an amendment takes three-fourths (38) of the states to approve. It is an intentionally difficult process.

The First Amendment is under quite an attack. There have been some actual legislative efforts to curb speech and religious freedom (so-called “hate speech” comes to mind), but the biggest threats come from the courts and the anarchist/socialist mobs that infiltrate meetings and mau-mau the speakers. Under the banners of “social justice” and “hate-speech prevention”, we see college campuses becoming places where opinions opposed by the administration, the faculty, or the mob may not be expressed. In addition, many media outlets now intentionally avoid and/or refuse to carry specific ideas, particularly Christian ones.

With these things in mind, I encourage you to read the First Amendment, read the positions of candidates on free speech, and vote prayerfully with those things in mind. For example:

· “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

Notice that it doesn’t say “freedom of religion.” Some use that language to mean, “You can do whatever you like in your religious services, but don’t try to bring it outside the walls of the church.” The free exercise of my faith gives me the right to do what my faith requires of me, as long as I don’t materially injure someone else or abridge their rights. I can do these things in the public square, in my front yard, or in my free time at school or work. That is important when I choose to carry my Bible on campus, pray in a public building, put a Creche in my yard, or express an opinion that goes against societal orthodoxy. I also have the right to refuse to participate in the folly of others, even if their behaviors are legal, if that participation contradicts my faith. Vote for those who vow to protect the free exercise of religion.

· “or abridging the freedom of speech,”

All speech, especially political and religious speech, is protected. That includes any mention I choose to make about the Lord Jesus Christ. I can speak of Him in the grocery store, on the internet, or in the school. I can wear t-shirts and apply bumper stickers that name the Name. I have the right to declare my opposition to behaviors proscribed by Scripture, even if others are offended. I will do so whether it is protected or not, but our Constitution still promises that protection. Remember, faith comes by hearing. Vote for those who promise to protect our right to preach.

· “or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

People who gather in mobs to scream at other folks in a restaurant are not protestors, they are assailants. There is no right to destroy other people’s property in protest of government policy. The moment you do, you have moved from peaceful protest to riot and revolution. When the assembly turns from peaceful to violent, it is a crime. Prosecute it. When the assembly begins to harass private citizens going about their lawful business, the participants are no longer petitioning government, they are committing the crime of civil harassment and menacing. Prosecute it. Vote for candidates who will enforce the law.

Somebody Said: To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. Frederick Douglass

Scripture Reading: “And now they’re at it again! Take care of their threats and give your servants fearless confidence in preaching your Message, (Acts 4:29 MSG)

Pastor Virgil L. Stokes

 

Revive the Tithe: Crop Insurance

Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.” (Mark 4:26-29 NLT)

We find the first specific example of tithing in Abram’s visit to Melchizedek in Genesis 14. It would be great if we could find the tithe specifically mentioned in the life of Isaac as well, but we can’t. We do know that he learned a great deal about covenant life from his father. In Genesis 26 we find him in the land of the Philistines and in the midst of a famine. His go-to plan is the great principle of the Kingdom:  sow seed. and reap a harvest. The result is a harvest so great that the Philistines are jealous. I believe he learned how to get a crop even in famine from living in plenty with Abraham.  He learned to pay his crop insurance.

 

Sunday Blessing: Singin’ With Jesus

Since the One who saves and those who are saved have a common origin, Jesus doesn’t hesitate to treat them as family, saying, I’ll tell my good friends, my brothers and sisters, all I know about you; I’ll join them in worship and praise to you. (Hebrews 2:11-12 MSG)