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The Word For Today

Are You a 'Stephen'? (2)

'Choose...men...full of the Spirit.' Acts 6:3 NIV

Stephen was also chosen for leadership in the New Testament church because he was 'full of...the Holy Spirit' (Acts 6:5 NIV). Why is that important? Because Jesus said to His disciples: '...You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem (your home base), and in all Judea (those within driving distance) and Samaria (places where you won't necessarily be welcomed) and to the end of the earth' (Acts 1:8 NKJV). Paul writes, '...Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit...' (Ephesians 5:18 KJV).
The story is told of a pastor who was seen drinking a glass of wine at dinner. Seizing on Paul's words, 'Be not drunk with wine,' the deacon board called for his immediate resignation. Whereupon the pastor responded, 'Then let's all resign. You say I failed the first half of the commandment, "Be not drunk with wine." But you've all failed the second half, "Be filled with the Spirit".' Understand this: you need to be continually filled with God's Spirit. After all, you're not still running your car on the first tank of petrol you put in it, are you? There was once an advert for Brylcreem hair gel for men that said, 'A little dab'll do ya!' That doesn't work when it comes to leadership in God's Kingdom! You're either being led by the Holy Spirit - or your own spirit.
'But I have talent,' you say. Yes, and God will use it. But when it comes to building what He wants built, it's, 'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord' (Zechariah 4:6 NKJV).

SoulFood: 2 Sam 7:18 - 11:27, Luke 6:17-26, Ps 118:1-9, Pro 18:4-6

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Are You a 'Stephen'? (1)

'...And they chose Stephen...' Acts 6:5 NKJV

The New Testament church grew so fast that the administrative aspect of it became overwhelming. The apostles weren't getting enough time to pray and study the Scriptures, so they picked seven men to handle the business side of things.
Stephen was one of them. For the next few days let's examine his qualifications: financial integrity. '...Seek out from among you seven men of good reputation...whom we may appoint over this business' (Acts 6:3 NKJV). Now, it goes without saying that if you're going to handle the church's finances, you must first have a proven track record in handling your own. That calls for saving, sowing and spending wisely. It also means putting God first in your finances. Here's a Biblical question you need to think about: 'Will a man rob God?' Apparently, yes. God said, '...You have robbed Me! But you say, "In what way have we robbed You?" In tithes and offerings' (Malachi 3:8 NKJV). Tithing isn't a matter of money, but of priorities. God doesn't want your leftovers, He wants your 'first-fruits' (Proverbs 3:9). Tithing is also a matter of obedience. 'If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity...' (Job 36:11 NKJV). When it comes to leadership in God's work, if you're not 10% behind it, how can you be 100% behind it?
If you're not already doing it, try tithing on your income for one year. It's like going into partnership with God. Loving the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength (Mark 12:30) must impact the priorities we display with our money.

SoulFood: 2 Sam 3:22 - 7:17, Luke 6:1-16, Ps 109:16-31, Pro 18:1-3

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Like Water off a Duck's Back

'...If you suffer for doing good...this is commendable...' 1 Peter 2:20 NIV

Have you ever watched water run off a duck's back? That's how you should treat unkind comments. 'But they hurt my feelings,' you say. Stop and think about that: if they are really your feelings, others have no control over them, other than what you give them. The truth is, almost everybody is more preoccupied with themselves than with you; therefore, you know more about yourself than they will ever know. It's not what others say about you that counts. It's what God says about you and what you say about yourself that counts. When you know who you are, you won't allow others to define your worth.
Jesus knew that His accusers were ignorant; that's why they feared Him. People fight what they don't understand. The mind tends to resent what it cannot master. Jesus never begged anyone to believe in Him. Why? Because He knew that integrity cannot be proven, it must be discerned. So He stayed focused on His goal. His enemies accused Him of being possessed by devils, but He paid no attention. He just continued to cast out devils. He didn't try to look good, He was good. He didn't try to be truthful, He was truthful.
It's human to want to be loved, valued and admired, but your enemies will never leave your reputation untarnished. You must rise above that and not allow what others say about you to change your opinion of yourself. Be like the New Testament believers. 'The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name [of Jesus]' (Acts 5:41 NIV).

SoulFood: Eph 4:17 - 6:24, Luke 5:12-26, Ps 79, Pro 17:24-26

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