Search

GOD GIFTS THE CHURCH


 
 

BIBLE READING



 

ACTS 6

 

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.


8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.


11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”


12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”


15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.


 

GOD GIFTS THE CHURCH

 

By Acts chapter 6, we notice that the early church has grown at an alarming rate: 3,000 believed and baptised in chapter 2; and 5,000 men (not counting women and children)

in chapter 4. With this growth all kinds of issues are presenting themselves. The

“compassion project” is maxed out and so the apostles call a meeting.


This is a ‘sorting the priorities’ meeting where they realise that someone needed to

keep the main thing the main thing. I believe it is important to notice that even for tasks that we might view as downright practical, the Apostles opted for Spirit-filled people to do them.


It was not viewed as a lesser job, just a different job, and this is so important to note. Although we know that God is in complete control of the universe, we often forget that He also has specific plans for our individual lives. Always remember He is sovereign

everywhere, including in the secrecy of your own heart.


Let me make an observation that I think is important for any community of Jesus to embrace. Perhaps the best way to put it is to say that “leadership among the community of Jesus arises from “below” not from “above.” Reread the first part of Acts 6 and you will notice that leaders arise from the needs of God’s people for guidance and service. They met as a community over an issue, described the issue to the people, and came to an agreement on how they ought to proceed. That’s beautiful to me. It is a picture to me of worshippers hungry to be in step with the spirit, and look again at the account and you will see that God provided leaders that were a “gift” from God to his Church.


Ephesians 4:8-11 says,
This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”

9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.


This is the kind of language we use when we ordain Deacons, and Elders and Pastors in our congregation. That in the call of God, the call of the congregation, we receive them as “Christ’s gift to the Church.”


Notice the outcome of this “sorting of priorities” meeting, “the word of God spread.” Further to this we read that “the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”


I am thankful for those people in my life who make me long to know God

more. How about you? I wonder how many of us have had a Stephen-like person in our lives. When I read this passage and encounter Stephen’s story, I find I am reminded of

people who have blessed my life, those who, because of God's character in

them, have made me “hunger and thirst” for a deeper connection to our Creator. Stephen is described for us as being "full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, full of God's grace and power." Stephen was a gift to the early church but he could not be tolerated by the Church’s opponents.


I invite you to take a moment right now and think about a person who makes you want to know God more. Reflect on the qualities of God’s character you see in her or him. Thank God for their witness and encouragement in your life.
 

PRAYER


May my life serve as an act of worship for You today, O Lord.

May all my achievements be to Your glory.

May my words be scented with the aroma of You.

May my actions be righteous in Your sight.

May my thoughts be made captive to You.

May Your Spirit be working in and through me.

May Your peace rest upon me and all whom I meet.

Thank you for the honour of being Your fellow worker today.

Amen

34 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All