The Christian and Giving- First Fruits

Firstfruit and Our Finances

Prov 3:9-10 
9 Honor the LORD from your wealth 
And from the first of all your produce; 
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty 
And your vats will overflow with new wine. 

In my early days of ministry, I remember serving in my denominational church in Japan. We served there three plus years and during that time we prayed for the sick, cast out demons, and saw many miracles. You would think that seeing all the great things that God does, people would want to go deeper with God and tap into that authority He won back for us. However, we found that most people are always looking at their wallet. If they are “blessed”, that isn’t some spiritual thing. It means they have all the provision (money, food, and things) that they could possibly need.

In the Japanese church, I found that the most common question was how do I walk in financial prosperity that the Bible preaches? Being a good student of law in my University days, I answered their question with a question. I always asked them, do you tithe regularly? The answer was always, one-hundred percent of the time, yes that’s 100% of the time, a big NO.

After a handful of people responded to the same question in the same way, we got smart and started a course on Sunday after church called God’s Financial Plan. In that way we were able to teach the whole church how God’s Word works in the financial area. To tap into God’s Financial Plan one of the very basic things is you have to be a giver. But that is not just a giver, but a regular giver. What is a regular giver? Well, Proverbs 3:9,10 lays that right out for us. If we are believer in God, then we need to honor Him with our Firstfruits. What are the Firstfruits? We are to give of the Firstfruits of our income. In the Old Testament, that was usually the first fruits of our crops. That is the top ten percent of what we produce was given to God in thanksgiving for all that He has given us.

If we are a farmer, then that would be taking the best off the top and offering it to God. Some might ask, “But Pastor, God does not need our money…” Well, He doesn’t need our money in Heaven but He does use it to work on this earth to work through His servants. Just as Abraham gave a tithe to the priest-king Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20) to honor the Lord for His victory, we are to honor the Lord with the Firstfruits of our labor.

It is interesting that Abraham chose to give off the top ten percent (10%) of his income, hence the beginning of the word tithe, which means 1/10th. Personally, I don’t think we are limited to giving the first 1/10th of our income. The point is that we are needing to be a consistent and thankful givers. Rather than saying tithe, at our church family we like to call our tithes our Firstfruits as that is exactly what they are; the first fruits of our labor, the cream on the top of the milk we have skimmed off and offered to God. They can be whatever percentage of your income that you have faith to give for. For our family, the ten percent is a minimum as we are so thankful what God has done through our local church and we want Him to keep it up.

For the founder of a major US corporation, his goal was to give 90% and keep 10% for himself. And he did it, but not only did he do it but he built the best company in his field because God blessed him for honoring God first.

Well, what is God’s Financial Plan?

1) Give your Firstfruits to the church you are ministered to at and where you call home. Your offerings can go anywhere as these are above your regular giving.

2) Give consistently. If you are experiencing financial lack, it is most likely because you are not giving consistently. If you are on a salary, most people give the Sunday following the receipt of their paycheck.

3) Give with a cheerful heart. This is probably the most important point. If you are not happy and thankful about giving then you should keep your Firstfruits. God wants you to give because you love Him and want to do so.

One other guideline we follow is we give our Firstfruits to the church where we are being ministered to. Anything above that becomes the offering. Offerings can be given anywhere God leads you to give. We give offerings as God directs to orphanages, missionaries in other countries, intercity ministries… however you are led by God’s spirit. You can even give regular offerings to ministries that God really ministers to you through.

The amazing part is the connection you get as you tithe your Firstfruits and sow your offering seeds into ministries. We have seen a direct connection in our lives between where we give and how God provides for us. It is amazing how when we are giving into a ministry that is good ground we are blessed. What is a good ground ministry? A good ground ministry is one that is 1) Proclaiming God’s Kingdom 2) Healing the Sick (Matthew 4:23). When we began giving into good ground ministries as well, our income increased three-fold. What does that mean in monetary terms? Ten-thousand Japanese yen became thirty-thousand Yen. For those who operate in dollars, $100 became $300. Hallelujah!

Praise the Name of Jesus! God is SO good. He is the ultimate giver who gave His Son to die on our behalf. 

Posted on 10 October, 2006

The Benefits of Participation

 

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil 1:3-7, NASU

Participation- 
As we are study through the book of Philippians at Victory Word Church, the theme of the book becomes very evident.  In Philippians 1:5, Paul commends the believers for their participation in the work of the Gospel. 

In this world, I have heard that participation by people in various groups is on the downturn.  The Rotary Club, the Lions Club, various civic groups are struggling to gain new membership.  People are no longer willing to spend time working for various causes as everyone becomes more self-centric, overloaded with too many other things to do, and just plain distracted.

This is not true for the church of Jesus Christ the Son of God.  The work of Jesus Christ on the cross is still changing people from the inside out.  People are changed by the power of the Gospel.  There are physical and spiritual healings, deliverences from drugs and sexual sins, and complete changes in people as they go from the darkness to the Light of God.

But, what makes believers different from all of these other dying groups?  The difference is the power of the Word of God (the Gospel) that acts in people’s lives as they apply the Word and act on the Word.  That power is activated as people participate in the church that God has called them to.  In Japan, many people start attending church at one particular body of believers (church) and stay there until they die.  This in general is noble, however it is trouble if the pastor stops seeking God’s direction and heart for the people of the area.  If the pastor is not spiritually sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, how can he lead the church into a deeper relationship with God?  The church needs to be praying and interceding for the pastor.  If there is no change, or no desire to change then it might be time to seriously consider looking for a healthy church.

People need to participate in the work that God has called them to.  Find a great church and get involved.  As you get involved in the giving of your tithe, your time, your love, your patience, your leadership, your support, your lifting the leadership up in prayer, yourself; God will bless you exceeding, abundantly above all that you could ever ask or think.  The church is not a building, but the family of God.  Families are made up of individuals.  The more that you add to the family, the more you benefit.

Come join us as we study on in the book of Philippians.  You will be amazed as the great plans God has for you.

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!  Philippians 4:4 

Posted on 12 September, 2006

Thirsty For His Presence

Matt. 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

In these days of being so busy many people sometimes forget how our Father God wants to be involved in our lives.  Just as a good earthly father wants to spend time with his children, our heavenly Father wants to spend time with us.

In the late nineties, I founded a company out of my bedroom.  It was a lonely start as I had gone from building the business of America’s largest telecommunications company in Japan to a one-man show starting out of my home.  However I knew in my heart that God had called me to this work.  As I first started out, there could have been a lot of anxious anticipation as to how we would live. However by God’s Spirit I knew where I was going.  I knew God had a plan of great success for us.

I remember my little children coming into my home-office just wanting to see their papa.  They wanted to play on the floor in my office.  They just wanted to be with their daddy.  It was hard for me to say no and I enjoyed them coming in but I tried to focus on my business.  Towards the end of the workday I would have more time to focus on them and I loved it.

God is clearly the same with His children.  He loves it when we make time to fellowship with Him.  Like little children we are anxiously waiting at the door to get into His presence.  Make time daily to spend time with Him, the benefits are amazing.

Is. 40:31 Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Posted on 5 September, 2006

The Brownsville Revival

The Revival at Brownsville

How can one even begin to describe the move of God that took place at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida? The revival that began on Father’s Day, June 18, 1995 has truly impacted the world and the Kingdom of God in ways that we will never fully know and understand. Around 4 million people walked through Brownsville’s doors and thousands of lives were saved and re-dedicated to Jesus. Through this move of Holy Spirit, a fresh passion and desire for His Presence and Glory has been placed in the hearts of believers world wide.

During the revival, Brownsville Revival School of Ministry was established to raise up men and women of God who would take the fires of revival to the ends of the earth. They are a major part of the fruit of the revival.

Over the years many scoffers and critics have risen up and spoken against the revival. However with the fruit that has lasted and come forth from this move of God, there can be no objections. God breathed upon Brownsville and the millions who traveled there in a fresh, new way. And because of that the nations will never be the same.

Though things may have changed at Brownsville and people have come and gone, the fact still remains that God wants to move in and through His Church. Brownsville brought forth an awareness of that reality, and for that we will be eternally grateful.

“There Must Be More!”

 

Timeline of the Revival at Brownsville

Below are highlights of different events surrounding the Revival at Brownsville.

1993

  Praying for Revival
Two-and-one-half years prior to revival, Pastor Kilpatrick responded to God’s prompting to make Brownsville a house of prayer in an even deeper sense. He promptly set aside tradition to designate the Sunday evening service as a prayer service, with members responding in true Brownsville commitment.1

Revival Prophecy of Dr. David Yongii Cho
Dr. David Yonggi Cho, pastor of the Yoido Full Gospel Church, Seoul, Korea, the world’s largest church, conducted a meeting in Seattle, Washington. As he prayed for revival in America, he questioned, “God are you going to send revival to America, or is she destined for judgment?” The Lord instructed him to get a map of America.

He did so, and the Holy Spirit told him to point his finger at the map. As he did, he felt his finger drawn to the Florida panhandle and to the city of Pensacola. “I am going to send revival to the seaside city of Pensacola, and it will spread like a fire until all of America has been consumed by it,” said the Lord to Dr. Cho. Dr. Cho shared his experience with others and the word predictably spread to many of the pastors in the Pensacola area.2

Dick Reuben’s Teaching
In March 1993, Dick Reuben’s week of teaching was said to have helped in getting Brownsville in line for the outpouring. Also during that week, Dick Reuben prophesied about the outpouring over ten times.3

1994

  No Info Available
1995

  Lindell Cooley
In April 1995, Lindell Cooley became the music minister at Brownsville.1

Father’s Day
Holy Spirit falls at Brownsville.

Revival Statistics
As of September 11, 1995, total attendance had passed 160,000, with 70,000 first-time visitors, 6,700 people saved, and hundreds baptized in water.2

Pastor’s Conference
December 1995, Brownsville held their first Pastor’s Conference with about 500 pastors in attendance.

1996

  No Info Available
1997

  Birth of BRSM
January 14, 1997 marked the birth of Brownsville Revival School of Ministry. Dr. Michael Brown was the first President of the school.1
1998

  Revival Statistics
As of March 1998, over 1/2 million had gone to the altars with 128,000 saved.1
1999

  No Info Available
2000

  Steve Hill Moves On
In June 2000, Steve Hill announced he would no longer stay at Brownsville, preaching every revival service. He continued his ministry traveling the globe preaching the Gospel.

Leadership Changes at BRSM
In December 2000, Dr. Michael Brown is released from BRSM as President. Thus FIRE School of Ministry is birthed in Pensacola, Florida.

2001

  No Info Available
2002

  Lightning Fire Burns Brownsville Sanctuary
Due to an electric storm, a portion of the sanctuary at Brownsville was burned. No one was hurt in the fire.1
2003

  Brownsville/FIRE Reconciliation
On January 12, 2003, a joint service is held by the staff, faculty and congregations of Brownsville and FIRE to bless and reconcile with each other.

Pastor Kilpatrick Resigns
On October 19, 2003, Pastor John Kilpatrick resigned from Brownsville Assembly of God as Senior Pastor. He pastored Brownsville for 22 years.1