Every Day With Jesus

Daily Devotionals from Pastor Quintin Stieff

Radical Purity

Today's Scripture

 

Matthew 5:27-30 (NIV) 
 

27 "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 
28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 
30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. 

 

Today's Message

 

radical purity

 

Have you ever purchased a food product at a grocery store, brought it home, and then discovered that the container had already been opened? Perhaps you didn't notice at first the slit in the plastic bag around the bread. Or a crack in the can or glass. Or a seal that had been broken.

I don't know about you, but I take that product back to the grocery and ask for a new one. Why? Because I'm concerned about purity. I don't want to eat something that isn't fresh or has been tampered with somehow.

We Americans are big on that sort of purity. Unfortunately, many of us have let our guard down on other kinds of purity, especially sexual purity.

Though we may manage to avoid out and out physical adultery, we allow our eyes and minds to wander into lust and impurity. Jesus says that's a serious problem and offense.

And he says take radical steps to deal with it. Don't play around with lust. Deal with it. Deal with it now.

Avoid like the plague those things that cause you to let down your guard. Jesus uses extreme language to make this point. Gouge out your eye! Cut off your hand!

Basically, he says: "Don't hesitate to take radical steps to prevent and treat a lust problem."

Lust has become a big business in America. Internet, television, magazines, movies, and music peddles lust to the unwary and reckless. And then it trickles down from fantasy into real life. A man no longer treats a woman as a real person, but merely as an object for his own pleasure. It can happen to women, as well.

Be very careful about this. Deal with it. If you are struggling to get out, but haven't been able to, get help. Get in an accountability group. Head to a support group. Take drastic measures.

Today, be honest with yourself and with God.

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"We Interrupt this Worship Service..."

Today's Scripture

 

Matthew 5:23-26 
 

23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 
24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. 
25 "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 
26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. 

 

Today's Message

 

"we interrupt this worship service..."

 

With the advent of cell phones, a new dimension has been added to worship services. In most churches in America, there is some kind of announcement reminding people to turn off their cell phones during the worship service. Why? Because the ringing of a cell phone is a distraction to the other worshippers. And, generally speaking, we want to avoid interruptions and distractions in a worship service.

This goes for a wide variety of interruptions...crying babies, loud talking, prolonged coughing fits, whatever! But there is one exception to this common practice of avoiding interruptions. In fact, there is one instance where Jesus not only allows you to interrupt your worship, but commands you to do so!

What could be so important to warrant it? Jesus describes the situation:

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

In other words, the resolution of an angry conflict is such a high priority, that (if you have ignored or forgotten about resolving it) you should drop what you are doing and take steps to resolve the conflict.

Why does he command this interruption? Because the interruption caused by your leaving is far less than the interruption caused by your unresolved conflict. God cares so much about how we love each other! He says that we have to address these situations front and center.

In verse 25 and 26, it also goes for making peace with enemies. It's important to pursue whatever peace is possible even with those who oppose us.

Today, perhaps God will call you to take the first step to resolving a conflict. Perhaps God is saying: "I interrupt your life to make an important announcement. Go be a peacemaker."

Don't let it pass. Start now.

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Diagnosis Murder

Today's Scripture

 

Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV) 
 

21 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. 

 

Today's Message

 

diagnosis murder

 

We live in an "age of rage." There are all sorts of ways to say it:

  • Angry
  • Seething with rage
  • Hot-tempered
  • Boiling over
  • Flying off the handle
  • Blowing up
  • Losing it
  • Out of control

But no matter how you say it, it's ugly. Some people have a hot anger (outbursts, lashing out in temper), while others have a cold anger (bitterness, resentment, silent treatment). But it's still anger.

Our culture tends to excuse our anger as legitimate:

"People need to vent."

"I'd be hot too!"

"I just needed to let off some steam."

But Jesus does not let us off the hook so easily. Read the verses above. Jesus is saying: "Anger is murder in seed form. Anger is only different from murder in its degree, not in the essential kind of attitude and action it is."

That's a major wake-up call for us who live in an abusive and violent culture. Anger is a deadly weapon - it hurts, maims, and destroys. And when you let it go unresolved, it usually escalates to the next level of rage.

That's why Jesus is so serious about it. He says you're answerable to God for your angry conflict and hostility. Rather than viewing it as an inevitable part of your character, he urges you to root it out of your system. Take it seriously and ask God to help you overcome anger.

A superficial view of anger is like poor officiating at a basketball game. The referee overlooks or misses obvious fouls with the idea: "No blood, no foul." Don't fall into this trap with your view of anger. There may not be blood, but there is a foul.

And God is blowing the whistle.

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Monday, September 17, 2018

Total Fulfillment

Today's Scripture

 

Matthew 5:17-20 (NIV) 
 

17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 
18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 
19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 
20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. 

 

Today's Message

 

total fulfillment

 

Jesus shared his memorable Beatitudes and his message on being salt and light (Matt. 5:1-16). These are powerful words. Apparently, he was getting messages back about his messages! Today's passage is a response to the feedback he was receiving.

The responses to this Sermon on the Mount (so far) may have included:

  1. What's this kingdom of God all about?
  2. Are you tossing out the old Law?
  3. Is this some trendy new fad we can get in on?

The passage today seems to be an answer to questions and thoughts like these. Jesus makes two important points:

First, he declares that he himself is the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament. It's not that he is throwing out the Old Testament. Rather, he is the culmination and fulfillment of everything the Old Testament was looking forward to. There is no change in God's plan (Old Testament). Rather, Jesus is the fulfillment of God's plan from eternity. And this plan will continue to move forward until all is accomplished.

Second, Jesus clarifies that his teaching is not some trendy fad, but the key to true greatness. The way to greatness in God's kingdom is through obedience. If you play loose and fancy with Jesus' teaching, you won't amount to much of anything. But if you take them seriously and take them to heart...and put them into action, you will experience true spiritual greatness.

What will that obedience look like? Well, for starters, it will have to surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of the law. This statement would have been a major bombshell in Jesus' day, since these religious leaders were viewed as the pinnacle of spirituality.

Jesus says: Not so! Your righteousness must surpass the Pharisees'. Not in degree of obedience, but in the kind of obedience you offer to God. The religious leaders were obsessed with external obedience. Jesus lets us know that God is looking for obedience from the heart.

Following Jesus is not about getting legalistic. It's about heart-transformation. What do you say? Are you willing to experience true fulfillment? Let Jesus transform you and follow him wholeheartedly.

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Light of Good Works

Today's Scripture

 

Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV) 
 

14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. 

 

Today's Message

 

the light of good works

 

When followers of Jesus do good works, it lights up a room. It even lights up the world. God has placed you right where you are today to be a beacon of brightness and hope to those around you. All kinds of good works can give light to others:

  • Acts of kindness
  • Words of encouragement
  • Help for someone in need
  • Sacrificing for another person
  • Patience in a difficult situation or trial
  • Forgiveness when you are wronged
  • Love to someone who is hard to love
  • Contagious joy and laughter
  • Peace when stuff is going wrong
  • A gentle response to someone
  • Showing love to your spouse, family, and friends
  • Welcoming a neighbor into your home 

The list is endless! And so is the light. When we do good works in Jesus' name, we really are the light of the world. And there's more! Our good works lead to good will. And good will with others leads to opportunities to share good news.

Don't hide your light! Let it shine today in your good works.

Posted by Valley Church Communications at Saturday, September 15, 2018