pre-work

man and woman wearing black and white striped aprons

Photo by Elle Hughes on Pexels.com

pre-work

Acts 10:1-8 (JDV)

Acts 10:1 There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment.
Acts 10:2 He was a devout man and feared God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God.
Acts 10:3 About three in the afternoon he distinctly saw in a vision an agent of God who came in and said to him, “Cornelius.”
Acts 10:4 Staring at him in awe, he said, “What is it, Lord?” The agent told him, “Your prayers and your acts of charity have ascended as a memorial offering before God.
Acts 10:5 Now send men to Joppa and call for Simon, who is also named Peter.
Acts 10:6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
Acts 10:7 When the agent who spoke to him had gone, he called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, who was one of those who stayed busily engaged with him.
Acts 10:8 After explaining everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

pre-work

The book of Acts is a guidebook for those who want to witness to those around them. What can we learn about witnessing from this passage? Well, notice that this incident made it possible for Peter and the other Jerusalem believers to connect with someone who they would otherwise never meet. Cornelius was a Gentile soldier living in another city. In order for he and Peter to meet, God had to have been working in the background of both of their lives, revealing, changing, molding them both into the kind of people who would accept each other as brothers.

This passage focuses on God’s pre-work in the life of Cornelius, his servants and fellow soldiers. Tomorrow’s text will focus on how God changed Peter’s mind about Gentiles.

As we seek those to whom we will share the gospel, we should look for signs that God has already been at work in their lives, preparing them for the good news. The signs will be there.

Lord, thank you for your wonderful pre-work of preparation.

God is doing the pre-work (video)

Posted in dependence upon God, discernment, evangelism, guidance, preparation, witness | Tagged | Leave a comment

get up and witness

beverage breakfast brown business

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

get up and witness

Acts 9:32-43 (JDV)

Acts 9:32 As Peter was traveling from place to place, he also came down to the devotees who resided in Lydda.
Acts 9:33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years.
Acts 9:34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed,” and immediately he got up.
Acts 9:35 So all who resided in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Acts 9:36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which is translated Dorcas). She was always doing good works and acts of charity.
Acts 9:37 About that time she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs.
Acts 9:38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples heard that Peter was there and sent two men to him who urged him, “Don’t delay in coming with us.”
Acts 9:39 Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs. And all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them.
Acts 9:40 Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up.
Acts 9:41 He gave her his hand and helped her get up. He called the devotees and widows and presented her alive.
Acts 9:42 This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
Acts 9:43 Peter stayed for some time in Joppa with Simon, a leather tanner.

get up and witness

Peter’s missionary work involved encouraging the new congregations that were sprouting up everywhere. People knew about his experiences with healing, and Luke includes two examples here. It is important to note that both of these people healed were apparently believers. They were both encouraged to get up — with the implication that once they were healed, they needed to witness to the healing so that those who noticed the change would recognize it as the work of the Lord, and glorify him for it.

The outcome of Aeneas’ healing: “all who resided in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” (35).

The outcome of Tabitha’s resurrection: “This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord” (42).

Lord, forgive us our past dormancy. We commit to getting up and witnessing to what you have done for us.

Why was Peter given a healing gift? (video)

Posted in healing, witness | Tagged | Leave a comment

sent to strengthen

smartphone beside watch and camera

Photo by Vojta Kovařík on Pexels.com

sent to strengthen

Acts 9:19-31 (JDV)

Acts 9:19 And after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul was with the disciples in Damascus for some days.
Acts 9:20 He immediately began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: “This one is the Son of God.”
Acts 9:21 All who heard him were amazed and said, “Isn’t this the man in Jerusalem who was destroying those who called on this name and came here for the purpose of taking them tied up to the chief priests?”
Acts 9:22 But Saul grew stronger and kept the Jews in uproar who resided in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
Acts 9:23 After many days had passed, the Jews conspired to take him out,
Acts 9:24 but Saul learned of their plot. So they were watching the gates day and night intending to take him out,
Acts 9:25 but his disciples took him by night and lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the wall.
Acts 9:26 When he arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to stick with the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, since they did not believe he was a disciple.
Acts 9:27 Barnabas, however, took him and brought him to the missionaries and explained to them how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and that the Lord had talked to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken openly in the name of Jesus.
Acts 9:28 Saul was coming and going with them in Jerusalem, speaking openly in the name of the Lord.
Acts 9:29 He conversed and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to take him out.
Acts 9:30 When the brothers found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
Acts 9:31 So the congregation throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Sacred Breath, it was being increased.

sent to strengthen

In just a few short verses, Saul travels from Damascus to Jerusalem to Caesarea to Tarsus. His missionary call would mean not settling in one area for a long time. In fact, it would take imprisonment for him to do that. He would also attract enemies wherever he went — part of what Jesus meant by “how much he must endure for my name” (9:16).

But wherever he went, the congregation of Christ experienced strength, encouragement and growth.

How much are we willing to endure so that Christ’s congregation can grow?

Lord, send us to strengthen your congregation.

a prayer for prospective missionaries (video)

Posted in missions, persecution | Tagged | Leave a comment

from murder to mission

photo of person walking near orange leafed trees

Photo by KIM DAE JEUNG on Pexels.com

from murder to mission

Acts 9:1-18 (JDV)

Acts 9:1 Now Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest
Acts 9:2 and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them tied up to Jerusalem.
Acts 9:3 As he traveled and was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
Acts 9:4 Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you chasing me?”
Acts 9:5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul said. “I am Jesus, the one you are chasing,” he replied.
Acts 9:6 “But get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Acts 9:7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the sound but observing no one.
Acts 9:8 Saul was raised up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing. So they took him by the hand and led him into Damascus.
Acts 9:9 He was unable to see for three days and did not eat or drink.
Acts 9:10 There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” “Notice I am here, Lord,” he replied.
Acts 9:11 “Get up and go to the street called Straight,” the Lord said to him, “to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, since he is praying there.
Acts 9:12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and placing his hands on him so that he may regain his sight.”
Acts 9:13 “Lord,” Ananias reacted, “I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to your devotees in Jerusalem.
Acts 9:14 And he has jurisdiction here from the chief priests to tie up all who call on your name.”
Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, because this man is my chosen instrument to take my name to Gentiles, kings, and Israelites.
Acts 9:16 I will show him how much he must endure for my name.”
Acts 9:17 Ananias went and entered the house. He placed his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Sacred Breath.”
Acts 9:18 At once something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and he was baptized.

from murder to mission

Saul went from breathing threats and murder to breathing in the Sacred Breath (Holy Spirit) because he had an encounter with Jesus. He changed from a murderer to a missionary. He changed from a person committed to causing suffering to a person committed to his Lord, enduring suffering. He had three days of blindness and prayer.

Would you be willing to spend three days in prayer to be a life-changing missionary like Paul? Even after his conversion experience on the Damascus road, Saul was not ready. He needed those three days of prayer and dependence. He needed the intervention of another missionary — Ananias — who was willing to go when and where God said go. He needed to be baptized as a Christian before he was ready to win others for Christ.

Lord, we want you to transform us from breathing out murder to breathing in your Holy Spirit.

What would you endure if you knew it was preparing you for a mission? (video)

Posted in baptism, commitment, Holy Spirit, missions, prayer, preparation | Tagged | Leave a comment

gospel gifts

hands above water

Photo by Arun Kr on Pexels.com

gospel gifts

Acts 8:26-40 (JDV)

Acts 8:26 But an agent from the Lord spoke to Philip: “Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is an unpopulated road.)
Acts 8:27 So he got up and went. There was an Ethiopian man, a eunuch and high official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to worship in Jerusalem
Acts 8:28 and was sitting in his chariot on his way home, reading the prophet Isaiah aloud.
Acts 8:29 The Breath told Philip, “Go to and stick with that chariot.”
Acts 8:30 When Philip ran up to it, he heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you’re reading?”
Acts 8:31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone guides me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
Acts 8:32 Now the Scripture passage he was reading was this: He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb is silent before its shearer, in this way he does not open his mouth.
Acts 8:33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who will describe his posterity? Because his life is lifted up from the land.
Acts 8:34 The eunuch reacted to Philip, “I beg you, who is the prophet saying this about – himself or someone else?”
Acts 8:35 Philip proceeded to tell him the good news about Jesus, beginning with that Scripture.
Acts 8:36 As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, “Notice, there’s water. What would keep me from being baptized?”
Acts 8:37
Acts 8:38 So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
Acts 8:39 When they came up out of the water, the Breath of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any longer but went on his way rejoicing.
Acts 8:40 Philip appeared in Azotus, and he was traveling and preaching the gospel in all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

gospel gifts

Philip was always bringing people to Jesus. What were his gifts? He had learned to pay attention to the Spirit’s prompting. He also had a good grasp on the meaning of scripture. And, he knew the gospel enough to explain it to anyone. He could start from any text of scripture and bring people to an understanding of God’s good news.

Lord, give us a clear understanding of your word, so that we can be quick to explain the gospel for those you lead us to.

____________________

What kind of spiritual gift did Philip have?

Posted in evangelism, gospel, ministry, spiritual gifts | Tagged | Leave a comment

rotten residue

bunch of rotten tomatoes

Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

rotten residue

Acts 8:4-25 (JDV)

Acts 8:4 So those who were scattered went on their way preaching the word.
Acts 8:5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them.
Acts 8:6 The crowds were all with the same passion paying attention to what Philip said, as they listened and saw the signs he was performing.
Acts 8:7 You see, unclean breaths, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.
Acts 8:8 So there was great joy in that city.
Acts 8:9 A man named Simon had previously practiced sorcery in that city and amazed the Samaritan people, while claiming to be somebody great.
Acts 8:10 They all paid attention to him, from the least of them to the greatest, and they said, “This man is called the Great Power of God.”
Acts 8:11 They were attentive to him because he had amazed them with his sorceries for a long time.
Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
Acts 8:13 Even Simon himself believed. And after he was baptized, he stayed busily engaged with Philip and was amazed as he observed the signs and great miracles that were being performed.
Acts 8:14 When the missionaries who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had welcomed the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.
Acts 8:15 After they went down there, they prayed for them so the Samaritans might receive the Sacred Breath because he had not yet come down on any of them.
Acts 8:16 (They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
Acts 8:17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Sacred Breath.
Acts 8:18 When Simon saw that the Breath was given through the laying on of the missionaries’ hands, he offered them money,
Acts 8:19 saying, “Give me this right also so that anyone I lay hands on may receive the Sacred Breath.”
Acts 8:20 But Peter told him, “May your silver be thrown into destruction with you, because you figured you could obtain the gift of God with money!
Acts 8:21 You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart is not right before God.
Acts 8:22 Therefore seriously change your mind about this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, your heart’s intent may be forgiven.
Acts 8:23 For I see you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by wickedness.”
Acts 8:24 “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon reacted, “so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
Acts 8:25 So, after they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they traveled back to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

rotten residue

The story of the mission to convert the Samaritans introduces us to Simon, who is a baptized believer, but who still has a bitter residue of his old life hanging on, binding him in wickedness (see verse 23).

Simon’s particular wickedness was bitterness over other people’s giftedness and authority, and greed to be more powerful. He had been a sorcerer — considered a powerful man to be feared. That residue had to be thoroughly purged from his life, or it would lead to destruction (Peter’s nickname for hell).

Lord, purge us of every residue of our past lives of wickedness.

Posted in ambition, envy, greed | Tagged | Leave a comment

off the fence

action air balance beach

Photo by c1n3ma on Pexels.com

off the fence

Acts 8:1-3 (JDV)

Acts 8:1 Saul agreed with taking him out. On that day a severe persecution broke out against the congregation in Jerusalem, and all except the missionaries were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria.
Acts 8:2 Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply over him.
Acts 8:3 Saul, however, was injuring the congregation. He would go into house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison.

off the fence

Stephen’s list of grievances was the last straw for the Israelites who were on the fence. After his murder, the whole people were polarized. They either sided with the congregation or — like Saul — sought to injure the congregation.

If you know truly who Jesus is, you have to get off the fence. He is either your Lord or your enemy.

Lord, we are jumping off the fence.

American are really good at it, but there’s a problem (video).

Posted in church, commitment, faithfulness | Tagged | Leave a comment

always resisting

monochrome photo of resist signage

Photo by Sides Imagery on Pexels.com

always resisting

Acts 7:1-60 (JDV)

Acts 7:1 “Are these things true?” the high priest asked.
Acts 7:2 “Brothers and fathers,” he replied, “listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he resided in Haran,
Acts 7:3 and said to him: Leave your country and relatives, and come to the land that I will show you.
Acts 7:4 “Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and resided in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this land in which you are now living.
Acts 7:5 He didn’t give him an inheritance in it – not even a foot’s pace – but he promised to give it to him as a possession, and to his posterity after him, even though he was childless.
Acts 7:6 God spoke about it this way: His posterity would be strangers in a foreign land, and they would enslave and abuse them for four hundred years.
Acts 7:7 I will judge the nation that they will slave for, God said. After this, they will come out and worship me in this place.
Acts 7:8 And he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. He fathered Isaac and circumcised him in this way on the eighth day. Isaac fathered Jacob, and Jacob fathered the twelve patriarchs.
Acts 7:9 “The patriarchs became envious of Joseph and sold him into Egypt, but God was with him
Acts 7:10 and rescued him out of all his troubles. He gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over his whole household.
Acts 7:11 Now a famine and great trouble came over all of Egypt and Canaan, and our ancestors could find no food.
Acts 7:12 When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there the first time.
Acts 7:13 The second time, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh.
Acts 7:14 Joseph invited his father Jacob and all his relatives, seventy-five throats in all,
Acts 7:15 and Jacob went down to Egypt. He and our ancestors died there,
Acts 7:16 were carried back to Shechem, and were placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
Acts 7:17 “As the time was approaching to fulfill the promise that God had made to Abraham, the people flourished and increased in Egypt
Acts 7:18 until a different king got up who did not know Joseph ruled over Egypt.
Acts 7:19 He dealt deceitfully with our race and corrupted our ancestors by making them put their infants outside so that they wouldn’t survive.
Acts 7:20 At this particular time Moses was born, and he was handsome in God’s sight. He was nurtured in his father’s home for three months.
Acts 7:21 When he was put outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and raised him as her own son.
Acts 7:22 So Moses was disciplined in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was competent in his speech and actions.
Acts 7:23 “When he had reached forty years of time, he decided to visit his own brothers, the sons of Israel.
Acts 7:24 When he saw one of them being mistreated, he came to his rescue and avenged the oppressed man by striking down the Egyptian.
Acts 7:25 He assumed his people would understand that God was giving them rescue through him, but they did not understand.
Acts 7:26 The next day he showed up while they were fighting and tried to reconcile them peacefully, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why are you mistreating each other? ‘
Acts 7:27 “But the one who was mistreating his neighbor pushed Moses aside, saying: Who appointed you a ruler and a judge over us?
Acts 7:28 Do you want to take me out, the same way you took out the Egyptian yesterday?
Acts 7:29 “When he heard this, Moses escaped and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
Acts 7:30 After forty years had passed, an agent appeared to him in the unpopulated region of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush.
Acts 7:31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he was approaching to look at it, the voice of the Lord came:
Acts 7:32 I am the God of your ancestors – the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look.
Acts 7:33 “The Lord said to him: Take off the sandals from your feet, because the place where you are standing is sacred land.
Acts 7:34 I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. And now, come, I will send you to Egypt.
Acts 7:35 “This Moses, whom they rejected when they said, Who appointed you a ruler and a judge? – this one God sent as a ruler and a deliverer through the agent who appeared to him in the bush.
Acts 7:36 This man led them out and performed marvels and signs in the land of Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the unpopulated region for forty years.
Acts 7:37 “This is the Moses who said to the Israelites: God will get up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.
Acts 7:38 He is the one who was in the congregation in the unpopulated region, with the agent who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors. He received living oracles to give to us.
Acts 7:39 Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him. Instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.
Acts 7:40 They told Aaron: Make us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we don’t know what’s happened to him.
Acts 7:41 They even made a calf in those days, offered sacrifice to the idol, and were celebrating what their hands had made.
Acts 7:42 God turned away and gave them up to worship the stars of the sky, as it is written in the book of the prophets: House of Israel, did you bring me offerings and sacrifices for forty years in the unpopulated region?
Acts 7:43 You picked up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship. So I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.
Acts 7:44 “Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the testimony in the unpopulated region, just as he who spoke to Moses commanded him to make it according to the pattern he had seen.
Acts 7:45 Our ancestors in turn received it and with Joshua brought it in when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before them, until the days of David.
Acts 7:46 He found favor in God’s sight and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.
Acts 7:47 It was Solomon, instead, who built him a house,
Acts 7:48 but the Highest One does not reside in handmade places, like the prophet says:
Acts 7:49 The sky is my throne, and the land my footstool. What sort of house will you build for me? says the Lord, or what will be my resting place?
Acts 7:50 Did not my hand make all these things?
Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Sacred Breath. As your ancestors did, you do also.
Acts 7:52 Which of the prophets did your ancestors not chase? They even killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.
Acts 7:53 You received the law under the direction of agents and yet have not kept it.”
Acts 7:54 When they heard these things, they were enraged and gnashed their teeth at him.
Acts 7:55 Stephen, full of the Sacred Breath, gazed into the sky. He saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
Acts 7:56 He said, “Notice, I observe the sky opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Acts 7:57 They yelled at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and with the same passion rushed against him.
Acts 7:58 They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. And the testifiers laid their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Acts 7:59 While they were stoning Stephen, he called out: “Lord Jesus, receive my breath!”
Acts 7:60 He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this failure against them!” And after saying this, he went to sleep.

always resisting

Stephen’s sermon was more like an attorney’s list of grievances in a lawsuit. It points out many of the historical incidents in the life of the Israelites where they resisted what the Sacred Breath wanted to do for them.

The stories of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David and the prophets illustrated this. The list is summarized in verse 51.

The list makes the case that when God determines to do something, it is often the very people who claim to be his who resist the change, and rebel against his chosen agents.

Lord, make us a people who learn what you are doing, and become proponents of the change, rather than opponents.

In today’s video, I share Bruce Harris’ comments about how Stephen laid the ground work for his presentation of the gospel.

 

Posted in change, cooperation, discernment, resistance | Tagged | Leave a comment

half truths

unknown celebrity taking selfie outdoors

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

half truths

Acts 6:8-15 (JDV)

Acts 6:8 Now Stephen, full of favor and power, was performing great marvels and signs among the people.
Acts 6:9 Opposition arose, however, from some members of the Synagogue of the Liberated, composed of both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, and they got up to argue with Stephen.
Acts 6:10 But they did not have the strength to stand up against his wisdom and the Breath by whom he was speaking.
Acts 6:11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.”
Acts 6:12 They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; so they came, seized him, and took him to the Sanhedrin.
Acts 6:13 They also presented false testifiers who said, “This man never stops speaking against this sacred place and the law.
Acts 6:14 You see, we heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will tear this place down and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.”
Acts 6:15 And all who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an agent.

half truths

Luke describes Stephen as a man whose ministry is empowered with supernatural strength. He performs miracles and speaks and presents himself as empowered by the same Spirit as Moses, the apostles, or even Christ. But that power for ministry also attracts opposition. Stephen’s opponents cannot succeed against his words, so they invent some half-truths and attribute them to Stephen, to discredit him.

Did Stephen speak against the temple? No, but he is a disciple of Christ, and Jesus had predicted that the temple would be destroyed soon.

Did Stephen blaspheme Moses, the law and God? No, but he did preach that Jesus is the Messiah, and that salvation is only through him.

When Stephen demonstrated his empowerment, Satan provided opponents who sought to discredit him and his ministry.

Lord, give us the courage to serve you, in spite of the opposition that service will produce.

Why does God allow half-truths to be spread about us? (video)

Posted in enemies, persecution, truth | Tagged | Leave a comment

adding new leaders

multicolored abacus photography

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

adding new leaders

Acts 6:1-7 (JDV)

Acts 6:1 However, in those days, when the disciples were increasing, there arose a complaint by the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebraic Jews that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
Acts 6:2 The Twelve called for the whole company of the disciples and said, “It would not be acceptable for us to leave preaching the word of God to assist with tables.
Acts 6:3 Brothers and sisters, select from among you seven men testified about, full of the Breath and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty.
Acts 6:4 But we ourselves will stay busily engaged in prayer and assisting people with the word.”
Acts 6:5 This word pleased the whole company. So they selected Stephen, a man full of faith and the Sacred Breath, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a convert from Antioch.
Acts 6:6 They had them stand before the missionaries, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
Acts 6:7 So the word of God spread, the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.

adding new leaders

As the congregation in Jerusalem grew, it became necessary to add more leaders. The complaint from the Hellenistic Jews was merely the catalyst for this change. If these leaders had not been added, the primary purposes of the Twelve (proclaiming the gospel; teaching the kingdom, and prayer) would have been slowed down by their administrative responsibilities. So, the congregation wisely chose to add these leaders.

Notice that the names of these men indicate that they were part of the group that had voiced the complaint: they were Hellenistic Jews. These men were respected in the community already, and would be well accepted as leaders.

Lord, give us the wisdom to recognize when a change in leadership is needed, and to choose new leaders wisely.

complaints don’t have to kill! (video)

Posted in change, discernment, leadership | Tagged | Leave a comment