Every Day With Jesus

Daily Devotionals from Pastor Quintin Stieff

Reaching Everybody

Today's Scripture

 

Acts 6:1-7 
 

1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 
2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 
3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 
4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." 
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 
6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. 

 

Today's Message

 

reaching everybody

 

The early church had a good problem, but a problem nonetheless. There were so many people becoming Christians that they had a hard time keeping up with the growth. They wanted to care for everybody, especially the weakest and neediest among them (i.e. the widows). But the sheer numbers involved eventually overwhelmed them.

So, people began to complain. And it wasn't some small problem they were griping about. There were widows who were going hungry. Little old ladies in the church weren't eating. That's serious.

So, they faced a crossroads. Do the apostles just bunker down, work more hours, spend more time trying to fix this problem, and in so doing, neglect the ministry of the word? No! Instead, they practiced excellent leadership by addressing the problem, gathering the disciples, explaining their priorities, offering solutions, and empowering fresh new leadership. And the result was that the problem got fixed and the church grew more!

Note carefully what the apostles did not say:

They did not say: "It is not right for us to wait on tables." It wasn't beneath their dignity nor was it an unimportant task. They said: "It is not right for us to neglect the ministry of the word in order to wait on tables. Though the serving ministry was important to the apostles, they realized that God had called them primarily to the ministry of the word.

They did not say: "It is not right to neglect the ministry of the Word in order to wait on tables." Rather, they said, "It is not right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word in order to wait on tables." It wasn't their calling, but it still needed to be done. It was an important ministry in its own right. It just wasn't their calling. For the seven Spirit-filled men, it WAS their calling. 

Four principles to gather from this passage:

1. The ministry of the word and prayer is the highest priority for the church's main leaders. Those are the guts of the ministry.

2. It takes all kinds of people and gifts and ministries to reach everybody. You have to multiply ministry or you can't do it.

3. Both speaking and serving gifts are highly valuable. The body of Christ needs both.

4. Practical ministries require spiritually mature believers. Not just anybody will do. They, too, need to be filled with the Spirit.

We want everybody to receive the blessing of being a part of the church family. 

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Unstoppable

Today's Scripture

 

Acts 5:25-42 
 

25 Then someone came and said, "Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people." 
26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them. 
27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 
28 "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood." 
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than human beings! 
30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead-whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 
31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 
32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him." 
33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 
34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 
35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 
36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 
37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 
38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 
39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." 
40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 
42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. 

 

Today's Message

 

unstoppable

 

The disciples were unstoppable. You could arrest them, threaten them, intimidate them, even torture them. But they just kept on going. 

They kept on preaching Jesus. He was the center of their lives and their message.

They kept on meeting with the church. They did so "day after day" and in many different locations.

They kept on sharing the good news. When you have good news, you can't keep it to yourself.

Most remarkably, they kept on rejoicing. Did you catch verses 40-41?

"His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name."

Even after they were flogged (an incredibly painful form of beating) and strictly ordered not to mention the name Jesus, it says they left the Sanhedrin "rejoicing." And the reason? Because they considered themselves honored to have been given the privilege of suffering disgrace for the name of Christ. 

Occasionally, I see a license plate that reads "Prisoner of War" or even "Purple Heart." The soldier in that car is not ashamed of having suffered for their country. Rather, they are understandably proud that they suffered for a worthy cause.

May we also be proud of getting wounded in the spiritual battle that ranges all around us. We may be persecuted, insulted, harassed, or even killed. But we are unstoppable. Because Jesus lives within us.

Pray for an unstoppable spirit today!

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Monday, June 18, 2018

God Hates Hypocrisy

Today's Scripture

 

Acts 5:1-11 
 

1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 
2 With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. 
3 Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 
4 Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God." 
5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 
6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 
7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 
8 Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?" "Yes," she said, "that is the price." 
9 Peter said to her, "How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also." 
10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 
11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. 

 

Today's Message

 

god hates hypocrisy

 

So far, in the book of Acts, it's seems to be one glorious episode after another. Thousands believe in Jesus, people are healed, and the church is unified, prayerful, and powerful. Compassion and generosity are commonplace and overflowing.

Then suddenly, a dark chapter interrupts the glory and joy. Two hypocrites, named Ananias and Sapphira, try to impress people with their spirituality and generosity. They falsely claim to have given a gift that they, in fact, had not given.  

Both of them told a bold-faced lie straight to the face of the Apostle Peter. And, individually, both of them drop dead on the spot after doing so.

Apparently, God takes hypocrisy-pretending to be someone we are not-really quite seriously. And he hates it so much that he simply takes Ananias and Sapphira out of the game, permanently.

Perhaps it was to send a message to the early church that religious pretending is not a game. Hypocrisy has been the scourge of the church for centuries. It's been argued that the hypocrites within the church have done far more harm to the cause of Christ than enemies outside the church. This is probably quite true.

It would have been fine for Ananias and Sapphira to have withheld giving some of their money. No one required them to give it all. But they went and LIED about it and said that they had given it all.

Beware of trying to impress people about your spirituality. Beware of seeking to make people think you are holier, more godly, more generous, more whatever, than you actually are.

It's just wrong. Dead wrong.

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Sunday, June 17, 2018

Real Transformation

Today's Scripture

 

Acts 4:32-37
 

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 
33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all 
34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales
35 and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means "son of encouragement"), 
37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.

 

Today's Message

 

real transformation

 

You can tell there is true spiritual transformation happening when you look at how people spend their money. One of the greatest evidences of the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart is your generosity.

Other types of conduct can be faked or remain as temporary fixes. But when people share their money, it usually indicates a substantial renewal of their hearts. It's easier to talk about our love for Jesus and others. But real change is when we give our stuff away to others in need.

How are you living in the area of generosity? Do you hold on to your money and possessions tightly? Are you reluctant or stingy when you give to the Lord? Do you find it hard to part with your money for someone in need?

Or do you delight in honoring the Lord with generous giving? Do you cheerfully give to those in need?

One of the truest indicators of authentic spiritual transformation is generosity. Ask God to lead you toward Spirit-filled, generous, and cheerful giving.  

No one ends their life saying, "I wish I'd been more stingy" or "I regret being so generous."

Ask God to replace the fear and anxiety with joy and contentment and generosity!

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Saturday, June 16, 2018

Extraordinary Impact

Today's Scripture

 

Acts 4:1-13 (NIV) 
 

1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 
2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 
3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 
4 But many who heard the message believed and the number of men grew to about five thousand. 
5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 
6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family. 
7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?" 
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! 
9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 
10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 
11 He is " 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.'
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by whom we must be saved." 
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

 

Today's Message

 

extraordinary impact

 

The Scripture declares that Peter and John were "ordinary men." Then how can we explain the extraordinary impact they made, not only in their time, but right down to this very day? (You are reading about these two "ordinary men" two thousand years later!)

Here are a few clues to their extraordinary impact:

  1. They were focused on Jesus and the hope he offers us. It says "the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead." They were sharing more than religious platitudes or positive thinking. They were sharing Jesus, the Risen Lord, and the hope he offers everyone.
  2. They were "filled with the Holy Spirit." They didn't depend upon their own strength and wisdom, but on God's.
  3. They were bold and unashamed to stand up for Christ. "It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed." They never flinched at the threats that came their way. They just faithfully and courageously gave out the message.
  4. They made clear that Jesus is the only way to be forgiven. They never bowed to pressure to suggest another way of salvation. They were immoveable from their conviction that "salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
  5. They had a close personal relationship with Jesus. Their enemies "were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." All their impact had its foundation in their close connection and time spent with Jesus.

Those five traits are still essential for impact today. Pray for the Lord to equip and empower you...just like he did Peter and John.

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Friday, June 15, 2018