“It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
We’re going to be going to the book of acts again. This morning, acts chapter six. We’re going to be looking at verses one through seven. If you have a Bible there, you’re able to look at, I’m curious. Um, how many of you brought your Acts journal this morning?
Just hold it up. Okay. There are a lot of them out there. It’s very, very, very encouraging. Keep it up. Good. If you don’t have one of these, if you’re a guest with us, encourage you to go by way of the, um, the hub this morning, uh, which is our info hub out there. If you turn in a communication card, you get a packet of stuff, including one of these extra.
Love to have you get one today. It’s, it’s a Bible on the one side and then place for notes for your own Bible studies, as well as if you’re a sermon note taker, which make all pastors really happy. We’re going to be looking at acts chapter six in a moment in 1959, a junior Senator from Massachusetts presented a striking speech was actually a speech.
His name was John F. Kennedy. And this junior Senator of Massachusetts was talking about the, the growing threat of the Soviet union as they were having their very significant military buildup nuclear weaponry. Uh, soon after this, they would put those weapons in Cuba, which would create the Cuban missile crisis.
Uh, just two years after this speech was made. But as he made this speech, he was highlighting the important. Of America being armed and ready for potential global conflict. And he used a term that was striking. He said, the word crisis in Chinese is composed of two characters. One which represents danger.
The other, which represents opportunity and was presenting that any crisis presents both things. I remember a few years ago, while serving on the board of ABW a world mission organization with over a thousand missionaries, 84 countries, we were facing a very significant crisis and we were, uh, it was soon after the, the 2008.
Economic downturn was affecting us financially. We had some other issues that were going on some from the distant past that had never been resolved. And now we’re coming back to really hit us. And it was, it was a very hard time. And I remember we were in a meeting and I was, and it was the executive team.
We were a meeting with the president and the senior leadership. And I remember somebody prayed this prayer. God don’t let us waste. The crisis crisis has with it danger, but it also has opportunity, especially to the child and children of God. They’re in first century Jerusalem, the Christians after somewhere two to four years of existing together since Pentagon.
We’re facing a crisis it’s recorded in acts chapter six. It is not the first thing that the early Jesus followers have had thrown at them. As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago, we mentioned that when we moved into acts chapter four, acts four through seven is actually the empire striking back chapter one through three is the establishment of the church that the first couple of sermons of Peter were just thousands of people are embracing Jesus as their Messiah, as their Lord, as their savior.
And there’s this growing, uh, explosive new membership coming into the church. But in chapter four, the empire starts striking back the empire here, meaning the spiritual empire of darkness. And we’ve seen a variety of things. That have been done and a variety of formats in which that opposition has come.
We’ve seen intimidation in acts chapter four. We saw that Peter and John, as they were speaking with a guy they had healed, uh, in the temple temple confines and have now been brought into the religious leaders. Cause they don’t like that. They keep talking about Jesus being raised in the dead. Well, Jesus is the guy that these religious leaders put to death and they warned them there.
They draw a line in the sand, they threaten them. And they said, if you keep preaching in this guy’s name, you will beat specifically going against our standard and our requirements for you. Now, the dies cast, they continue to preach. We see a second methodology that is recorded by Luke is in acts chapter five.
And this is infiltration. In this case, there was a prominent couple in the church, a wealthy couple who both sought recognition and influence. Darkness infiltrated the church through their pride and their greed and their deception and their self ambition, wanting to get praise and recognition, even for a, a spiritual work God, in both of these first two cases, the, the intimidation to the disciples, God protects them and gives them boldness to continue preaching God w uh, protects the church from the, the, the dangerous malignancy of self ambition and greed and pride that was manifested in the spirit of Anna niacin Safira, as it was infiltrating, the church we see in the passage that juror had preached last week, pastor Jared, in the end of chapter five and intimidation again, as now, all of the apostles, all 12 of them have been preaching and preaching about Jesus.
And they’re all arrested at once. And they’re brought in before the religious leaders and this. They don’t just threaten them. They talk about killing them. And finally, a wise, uh, uh, rabbi leader of Israel actually talks about the sovereignty of God. And it does a beautiful statement. He says this things of God, we don’t want to be against it.
If this thing’s not of God, it’s going to blow away. It’s interesting that chameleon was the discipler of the apostle Paul it’s possible. Paul was in some of these meetings as Saul. If he wasn’t there, he certainly was getting an eyewitness account from Gemelli all the time, but chameleon says, let him go.
So they do let them go. But not before they’ve beaten him and told all 12 of the 12 of them upon threat of their lives. That things are only going to get worse if they don’t start muzzling, this preaching ministry of theirs. So we’ve seen intimidation and a couple of ways we’ve seen infiltrate. And now we find a nother methodology, conflict and distraction.
In acts chapter six, we see a crisis over the lack of care within the early church community. It is another attempt to deflect a heart passion for Christ going forward in the early church. As the devil seeks to again, the empire is attempting to stop the church going forward. I’d like to read to you the account of what happens here in acts chapter six, verses one through seven.
Now in those days, when the disciples were increasing in number a complaint by the Hellenistic rose against the Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution and the 12 summoned, the full number of the disciples and said it, it is not right. That we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.
Therefore brothers pick out from among you seven men of good repute full of the spirit and of wisdom, whom we will point to this duty, but we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word and what they said, pleased the whole gathering. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the holy spirit and Philip and procuress and the canner and Tumon and Parr, Munis, and Nicholas a proselyte of Antioch.
These, they set before the apostles and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase in the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem and a great number of the priests became obedient to the faith. Let’s pray,
Lord, we gathered here. And we think of our own lives individually, as families, as a church community, and God, none of us have been spared from crisis. There are many people right now in the sound of my voice that feel in crisis. So Lord, we surely want to learn from this narrative about what you have to teach us about how you build your church and how you see your people through crisis.
But we also want to learn how you build us as people and how you lead us through crisis. Lord, teach us this morning. I pray, man. We better love Christ because of our time in your word. This one. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The crisis that the church was presented with did have a potential danger, but it also had a potential opportunity. Let’s look how it unfold. First of all, we find the crisis in verse one. Now, in those days, when the disciples were increasing in number a complaint by the Hellness rose against the Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution, what caused the problem here was a result of the fact that there were two groups of Jews within the early church community.
There were two groups of Jews with their w within Jerusalem. He talks about here, the Hebrews, and he talks about the Hellenistic. These were both Jewish groups. You see everybody that became a part of the early church. We’re Jews until later on, we’ll see the change take place notably and chapter eight through 10.
But here we find that there were these two groups of, of, of individuals, of Jews that have become believers, have their own stuff with each other. And it’s a result of probably certainly not intentional, but unintentional oversight there with a group called the Helen I’ll. First talk about the Hebrews.
The Hebrews were the people that had lived. They were the lifers in Jerusalem. They were the lifer, uh, Israeli Jews. If you will lived in the nation of Israel, the land of Israel, they were individuals that spoke Aramaic. Aramaic is a, a variant. Um, it is a dialect of. Hebrew. And they spoke that language.
That’s what they talked that that was their primary language. They might have known other languages. They might’ve known Greek. Most of them did not. Some of them would, but they spoke Aramaic and that’s how their synagogue worship took place. There was another group of Jews that lived in Jerusalem at this time called the Hellenistic.
We’ll see them later. As a matter of fact, they’re going to be the ones at, at times that are going to be the most vociferous in their hatred of the apostle Paul it’s because he was one of them. He was a Hellenistic Jew. He was a Jew that came outside of Jerusalem, outside of Israel. He was actually from the area of Turkey and, and he had a modern day Turkey and he had come down.
He was a Greek speaker. Now he also knew Hebrew who’s trained. Uh, he was very learned, man, but the native language of Hellenistic Jews was. The striking thing is that there were Greek speaking synagogues in Jerusalem, and there were Aramaic speaking synagogues in Jerusalem. We even see one later in this chapter that, that most believers referring to one of the Hellenistic Jews called the synagogue of the Freeman.
But here we find that what’s taking place is an outgrowth of two communities being merged into one. You can understand the distinction and the backgrounds. I mean, imagine these families, you’re, you’re a Hebrew family, you’re a family that speaks Aramaic. Your ancestry goes back to living in the land for generations, you worship with people that speak like you, that, that know the land like you that know the culture that have the same cultural background as you.
You do synagogue worship. The educational system of the day for all of the kids was through the synagogues. So all the kids grow up with the same Aramaic speaking Jews. That’s their people, that’s their culture. Then there’s another culture within Jerusalem. They’re Greek speaking, Jews, they’re Jews, but they grow up together and they do school together and they do worship together and they do life together.
And now all of a sudden, some of these folk and some of these folk have embraced Jesus as the Messiah, he’s become their Lord and savior. And they’re flocking to the meetings in Solomon’s porch. And they’re, they’re flocking to these, these home meetings. And, but their backgrounds are really different. And what’s happened is whereas in the synagogue, the widows would be financially cared for by the community.
Well, then are part of those communities as their primary relationships anymore. In many cases they’ve been pushed out and the Greeks, excuse me, the Hebrew speaking ones. There are people who, who these are widows who have, I mean, they have generations in the land. We don’t know exactly what caused the oversight, why this group of widows was, was financially cared for by the early church.
We know how they were cared for, because we’re told at the end of acts, chapter four, that all the money ran through the apostles. The next chapter four people brought their money, placed it at the foot of the apostles and the apostles. Then we’re trusted and we’re worthy of trust to disseminate the money.
Now they went with the people they knew, this is a, this is a wild and wooly environment, right? I mean, there’s new faces coming all the time. It says here in verse one, it’s multiplying, it’s growing. There’s people that the apostles don’t know. I mean, there’s thousands of people and some of them are widows.
Well, they, they, everybody that’s connected is apparently getting cared for, but this group much smaller group, much less connection even to the land and to the culture and to, to the temple. They’ve now been disenfranchised from who they did have, and they’re out there and they’re sort of drifting a little bit and nobody’s really caring for them, especially for their widows.
And they’re concerned about. Understandably.
And it was a big deal because that’s how these people, these, these widows would be cared for how they’d be fed. They didn’t have jobs. Usually it didn’t have livelihoods. They may not have had a lot of family support. They had been cared for by their individual synagogue. Now, Karen for widows, pretty important, James, who’s going to be head of the Jerusalem church wrote in his first letter and in his letter, which one of was one of the first two letters written in the new Testament.
He said, here’s what pure religion is in James. 1 27. It’s you take care of the widows and the orphans. So this mattered. So we’ve got a, we got a crisis and the crisis presented a danger and the danger. Obviously the most immediate danger is that these women would not be cared for, but the danger went beyond the widows.
The danger went to the health of the entire community and the entire witness of the early church. In two ways, I would suggest one, the danger was that they were creating an us them environment. Isn’t it? It says in verse one, there was a complaint by the Hellenistic that arose against the Hebrews. The word complaint here is used in second Corinthians, 10 20 10, where the apostle Paul is reciting the wilderness wanderings.
And he makes this statement do not grumble as they did in the wilderness wanderings, the word grumble. There is the exact same. It’s the verb form of this phrase, of this, of this noun complaint. They were grumbling. They were muttering. It’s interesting that didn’t go to the apostles and say, Hey guys, would you look up?
They did what we all tend to do. They went to friends, you know, the hell in the school, they’re talking, Hey, you know, Mary’s not getting, nobody’s looking out for her. And, and, and, uh, we know this money coming in. We’re watching guys like Barnabas selling land and host a whole on an Iris. It’s a fire thing.
I mean, they gave land there’s money coming in, but our people, our women are, are, our people of need are being overlooked. And there’s the, the whispering campaign going, I don’t know how vitriolic it was, but it was enough that the word that Lowe Luke chose to use was the word. That carries the idea of, and it actually carries the idea of silent speaking, quiet speaking.
This was not accusations that were brought to Peter and the boys, the apostles, this is done more, almost more harmful, how it’s just spreading, just like it did in Israel years before just the muttering and the gambling and the Atlanta. Why, why it’s going. I mean, to know they care about and where are we?
What do we, who do you second class? So the word, the potential is great for conflict for being divided into different camps. The second danger is it would destroy potentially the witness, the testimony of the early church, the great influence of the early church, as we have seen already in the book of acts.
Is the oneness that this community was able to create. We’re going to see it even more as we go forward in acts where now you got to throw Gentiles into the pot and the astounding difference of cultural background and religious bracket, social background, that’s going to be thrown, you know, Paul’s Romans 14 about what do you do about me?
And first can they say, what do you do about meat offered to idols? And how do you do this? And aren’t we supporting the whole, uh, uh, system and all the Jews are feeling, yeah, we can’t possibly meet like that. And all the Jensen sin, why come on? I mean, this is, we’re not worshiping idols. We’re just eating.
He says, well, your money is gone and that’s you and you get it. And the temptation is to say, you know what? Let’s just do what we’ve always done. The hell is Jews. You have your churches and we’ll have our churches. Now it’s possible. They had worship experiences for those that couldn’t speak Aramaic. They still had them meeting for worship, but it’s clear all of them were put under the community of the oversight of the apostles.
All of them were doing life together. All of them were one body. And the new Testament just constantly screams that Jesus is not saying, yeah, let’s have them meet Monday. You meet Tuesday or you meet the morning. Won’t be at the afternoon. Let’s just, let’s just act as two different groups. He says, no, there’s one savior.
There’s one body. There’s one spirit, work it out, learn to love. It was one of the most powerful polemics of the early church that they learned to do the earthy stuff. Of coming to say, we’re going to major on the majors. We’re going to do life together. We’re going to have different convictions, different conscious issues at times, but different ethnicities, different cultural backgrounds, even different language.
We are going to be one. It was one of the most powerful messaging of the power of Christ to change people in the entire messaging of the book of acts. It’s why so many, I’ve pointed this out before. So many of the times in the book of acts where you hear Luke recording that and the church grew and the church multiplied, follows where they’ve just worked through something.
And they says, and they were all of one accord and they were all together in this passage. We’re going to see it again, this in verse one, it starts and says the church grew was. After we deal with all this in verses two through six, he’s going to say in chapter, in verse seven, the church was exploding in growth.
Priest were coming to Christ again. It’s when they came to work through issues, there was a danger here. If they didn’t handle this properly, they took relationships and oneness really seriously. The third thing we find is the opportunity.
There was the opportunity to stay true, to priorities of preaching and prayer. We see what happened here. You know, they raised a concern in verse one, the apostles hear about it. And apparently they went, they had a con fab, they processed it. They talked together and they came back and basically said here in verse four, they summarized it.
I said, we, we, we cannot give ourselves to serving tables. Now, the interesting thing is they were already doing. The same. We just can’t continue this. We can’t do this. We’ve got to give ourselves in verse four. We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word, this really was a salient moment in the early church.
It sounds like the apostles now are doing something that will be, and actually turns out to be a direction setting moment for the church. They said we are called to be proclaiming the word of God and to be praying, these were the two elements the whole church has been built on in these chapters. It was the sermons which comprise over one third of the book of acts that Luke is highlighting saying it was the, the proclaiming of God’s truth of the gospel.
That people were responding to it. Doesn’t say the apostles, don’t say we will give ourselves to signs and wonders. We will give ourselves to, to these miraculous healings and, and other things that they were doing, but they say, no, it’s not our ultimate calling our ultimate call used to be praying and to be proclaiming truth.
They even had two guys who would be authors of the new Testament that they were proclaiming Peter and John. So why was it so vital for the church, for the apostles to say we’re not against, and it’s obviously they’re not against caring for the widows. They’re going to care for that in a beautiful way.
But they’re saying we have got to give ourselves to this. We can not be deflected from this. Why. Because God gave to the apostles, the word and prayer as their life work, because the word and prayer are the life blood of the church. This wasn’t just about the apostles. This was about the entire community.
Are we going to be able to value being people of prayer and being people who are, who are listening to the voice of God? There are many organizations that do wonderful things. Like some of those things that will take place in this passage and caring for the widows. What sets the church of Jesus apart?
Is it as a church that is dependent upon Christ is crying out for him in prayer. And that is ultimately its greatest gift is proclaiming. We’ll see, there is the continual marriage of caring, compassionately for people, but these guys recognize that the devil’s primary desire is always to get the people of God and therefore the, the, the pastors of God, if you will, to direct them from the primary calling, because these two elements are the primary need of every believer, no believer can grow or thrive or be healthy without the word of God and prayer.
So the distractions that are presented are always presented to deflect both spiritual leadership. From that, not that all leaders need to make that their priority calling, but those that have that priority calling, there’s always going to be the attempt to try to deflect them and distract them from that and to distract the people of the community from imbibing, those two realities in their own lives.
So I was talking to a guy this recently, who was, I went away for a couple of day retreat. Uh, just felt he needed to hear from God. And it was interesting talking to him and he said, you know, he went, he went to a place, he didn’t know one person there. He ate by himself, uh, and the dining places are treat.
And, and, but, and so it was totally alone. It was beautiful. And so he had this time and all he had with him when it was his Bible and he said, and his phone, and he said I was there. And he said, I kept trying to get started and listing. I, there was always something that I was on my phone about. He said, I found myself removing apps, getting rid of this social media app.
Give me he’s uninstalling all these apps. Why you just a picture of how distracted we are. I remember a guy from our community group a few years ago, went down and got, got in the, got to go to the masters one of the days. And, and he said the most powerful experience for me, at least one of the most powerful experiences was not only the pageantry and you know, the beauty of the grounds and, and, and watching the golfers.
It was just having a whole day where my cell phone was off because they require that we are so regularly, consistently distracted. This was the methodology they were trying to use. Let’s distract the apostles and we’re going to look at it a moment why it was hard to not get distracted.
Many of you have read books by Stephen Kobe, um, uh, the seven, uh, seven habits of highly effective people. One of the things he talks about in there is, is putting the first things into our lives first. And I I’m sure many of you are familiar with this, so I’m not going to belabor it. But what he talks about, he talks, he tells a story of a college professor, apparently a real college professor at one time, a philosophy professor was trying to show the importance of building in first things first in your life.
And you’ve heard this illustration, some of you have where the professor just took a big jar, a glass jar. And, uh, he first put in rocks, you know, like two inch rocks and he filled the thing up and he says, it’s a jar full. And they all looked and said, yeah. And he said, okay. And then he brought out some pebbles and he poured the pebbles in and sort of shook it around and all these pebbles, they, there was room for the pebbles and he says, they’re full.
And they’re not quite as sure, but this looks full. And he says, okay. And he shakes it a little bit. And then he brings in some sand and he pours sin and sand is able to find its way around the pebbles and round the stone. And he says now, as a full, they thought, okay, nothing. Then of course he took water and he poured water and all these things have gone into this thing.
And what he said is if I reversed that and I put in the other elements, and then I tried to add the rocks, I could never get them in. And yet the rock. In our lives are the biggest and most important thing. They’re the biggest things for us. And there are priorities and he says, you have to put them in first because you probably won’t be able to add them just as an extra along the way, no matter how important they may seem to you.
I’ve I’m sure every pastor in our church has heard this illustration from me. I’ve shared it with other pastors. Many times it was a meaningful quote to me was I think it was Phillip Brooks once said when you’re in the ministry, when you’re, when, if you’re someone that’s going to be handling the word of God, you have to be immersing yourself in the scripture.
You can’t just be studying, uh, oh, I’m speaking this, this Wednesday. So I’ve got five days. I got to start. He said, there’s two ways of doing ministry one way. Is to live like a conduit where basically you’re getting the information and it’s flowing and it comes out. He said, the other way is a reservoir where you have a reservoir of truth and it’s when you speak or when you teach it, it spills over, but you haven’t exhausted the reservoir.
I can tell you I’ve done both. And there is nothing more draining and emptying than to feel like I just shot all the spiritual reserves I have in that sermon. But when I’ve been speaking out of a reservoir where God is speaking into my life, separate from what I’m preaching my life. It overflows. I’m not going to walk out of here after this sermon, like, oh, I got nothing left now I got, now I got to start up.
No, there that reservoir, the reality is these these apostles saying, we’ve got to give ourselves to this. We are not winning need to just prepare a sermon. We’ve got to give ourselves to the word that, that, that are speaking is falling out of a reservoir of truth. We’ve got to be folded to the scripture.
No, they’re not saying everybody in the congregation at, at, at, at Jerusalem had to do that. But they’re saying we do, because what is a life work for us is life blood for our people. So we’ve got to preserve that. The other thing they said, we’ve got to be people that are crying out to God. We’ve got to be people that live casting.
Our cares is first Peter five says and has already say to you that, that you have one, two options. You can be the humble man of first Peter five, five through seven, where it says, we show our humility by casting our cares on God, or you can be the proud man. And by inference, we show our pride by carrying our cares.
The apostle said, we’ve got so much. We’ve got to give to the Lord. We’ve got so many people that we are feeling the weight of the burden for. We’ve got to be devoted to prayer the rocks for these men. Was being a building a reservoir of truth within their lives that was spilling out in their preaching and devoting themselves to crying out to God.
I would suggest to the rocks for you as a believer, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ is also to be in the word and to be speaking to God in prayer, even if it is not for preaching or teaching, you’re doing it for surviving in your spiritual journey. So one of the things that was an outgrowth of the decision they made was it enabled them to keep the priority of the word and prayer.
But I just want to say this, this wasn’t easy. I want you to come with me and imagine yourself in that community. And I, I would guess the apostles, if they didn’t hear this messaging, they heard it in their head. Something like this, you know, we’re hearing these widows and they have been neglected and we have been caring for the, you know, we’ve been, we do care for Martha and Joan and, and you know, all 12 of us and we have people have our ear and we’ve been caring for those, those gals.
And now we’re finding out that there’s a, there’s a whole part of our community that we have neglected. Don’t you think somebody would have felt, you know, it’d be so wonderful. Now, if the apostles would just say, you know what, we’re sorry, we’re now going to show our value of you. We’re going to pour our lives into your women as well.
Or if you are one of those telling us, you don’t think somebody felt something like this, wait a minute, you’re going to point other people to do this. After you’ve been doing this with the Hebrew gals, we don’t get one apostle. I mean, just give us a, give us a fattiest. Nobody even knows who he is. Give us somebody.
They didn’t get anybody.
So these, this, I would, I can’t imagine the apostles. Didn’t think, uh, it’s going to be hard, not everybody’s going to understand and everybody’s going to get it. It’s how are we going to really say, we really do value these women? What yet? We’re going to appoint guys and they’ll get good guys, but we’re not giving them what we gave to others.
I’m saying that, say this living by priorities is hard. Living by the rocks. Putting the rocks in is costly. There’s going to be people you let down. There’s going to be things that are not understood. There’s going to be potential voices that if they’re not there, you’re going to hear them yours. But the beauty of these apostle.
Was they listened to the voice that needed to be loudest. And they responded in a way that enabled them actually to care for these women in the best way. But it came by these guys being willing to say, we have to follow the voice of God’s call upon us. We got to get the rocks and we got to do it first.
So do you, so do I,
the other thing it did was it strengthened a network of compassionate ministry. They said, choose seven men to oversee the work of caring for these, these Greek speaking with. It’s interesting here in this passage that Luke refers to the disciples, the apostles as the 12 first time they’ve ever called that way.
And it’s interesting that later when he’s referring to Philip, it says he is, he is Philip. The evangelist. One of the seven, you know, is that these two guys, you know, like the magnificent seven, well, that was them. These were the magnificent seven of the early church. These were the ones that were appointed as the first deacons, if you will, it was a new role.
And it was born out of necessity led by the spirit of God. It’s interesting that the role is not actually defined. They knew that it initially was to care for the widows care, but they had lots of other things. Matter of facts, Stephen and Philip, two of these of the seven are going to fill up chapter seven and chapter eight of acts in their pre.
And ministry of public ministry. So they did more. The role of deacon is nowhere in the new Testament, clearly defined. It simply means servant. They became what the church needed in order for the apostles later elders, pastors, to do the work that they were called to do. And that will change. I mean, I’ve, I’ve been here a long time.
I’ve been here when we had 14 folks in a Bible study for me when we started the church and, and w got up to about 45 people and had our first deacon, or maybe it was 65. Um, the deacons were my co-laborers and we did ministry together. We process everything together. These guys gave up incredible amount of time, early morning meetings.
As time went on, the role became more care related to having care groups. Then we had community groups and right now our deacons function much more of a role of oversight, more of a, what we would think of as lay elder type of role, but they are functioning in, in oversight of, of, uh, finances of care. We, we are accountable to them as pastors, but the role changes it’s it’s fluid and it was fluid from the beginning.
They served a specific function. All right. Last thing, the impact verse one, I mentioned it says the disciples were increasing in number in verse two through six. They highlight what the early church focused on one, the passionate preaching of the word of God. And secondly, the compassionate care for the practical needs of people.
The result is in verse seven. And the word of God continued to increase. And the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem and a great, many of the priests became obedient to the faith. I am not a regular on social media. I’m a dabbler. Um, but even dabbling, I, I know that the next generation and my next generation is maybe the next next generation looks largely negatively towards the church.
Culturally, the squabbles, the, the interpretation that many in the church, uh, trust more in politics than God. I’m more concerned about being right than being kind. And I’m just saying this is perceptual are harmful and, and barriers, but the one thing that is, I think, continually held up. The church and I’m in evangelical church, is this, the church exists to serve itself.
The most impactful ministries are when the church is investing resources, time, energy, money into others without expecting returns.
It’s beautiful. And we didn’t plan it this way, but we talked about the refugee ministry to me, a gospel centered ministry, where we are praying and pleading with God to have opportunity to build relationships, to lead people to Jesus. But even if it does. Just caring for people. I think it has a messaging to it.
It isn’t why we’re doing it. That isn’t why they cared for the widows. It’s just the result. Even a watching world looks at the church, caring, compassionately for people and see something that is compelling. They aren’t just concerned about themselves. It happened here. In the book of acts, I’d like to pray, and then we’re going to close our service in a certain way this morning, Lord, we come to you.
God. There’s so much about this passage. That is a deep passion to me. I believe in proclaiming the scriptures. I want to continue to grow. In my own prayer life till the day I die. I also believe Lord in the beauty of the body, being willing to fight through differences, different convictions, different perspectives, different stance to be one body to give the polemic that Jesus really is the one that brings a people of one accord of one mind.
So Lord continue to teach us how to do that as a people in Jesus name, amen ministry Australia, that we’re going to commission this morning. And I believe Joanna, who is who’s going to be, you’re going to be talking. Okay. Come on up.
I’m going to invite, uh, Kathy Sedley and Joanna to come up with me, if they would, along with the Stephen minister team that would just got trained. If you would come up at this time as well. Our Stephen ministry is a one-on-one. Ministry that we do here in the body. There’s over 40 ministers that we have that have been trained and assigned to our caring and one-on-one relationships with people in the congregation and community.
It’s an amazing group of people. Um, a long time ago, God gave us a vision for in the care ministry of, uh, saying we’re our job is not to end suffering. God uses suffering. But to make sure that by God’s grace, we would strive to say that no one needs to suffer alone. These are people that have received over 50 hours of training, have read an unbelievable amount of books and material over the last weeks.
And Joanna Kennedy. Catholics, sadly have led this team of people in this training for these weeks ahead. And very simply we call our Stephen ministers. The after people, after the phone call, you hoped you’d never get after the funeral. When everyone has left and emotions you’ve held at bay came crashing in on you after the relationship falls apart in the bottom falls out of your life.
After the doctor says, I’m sorry, there’s nothing more we can. After the gavel come down, the canned cuffs go on and your loved one has led the way after the baby arrives, demanding more of you than you dreamed possible. After you find a pink slip with your final paycheck after your family and friends have heard your story one too many times, but you still need to talk it out.
These are people who are willing, trained, and desire. To walk towards need a, something that is not an easy situation, but something that they delight to do. I’m going to go ahead and read the names of these dear people, and then we will commission them. So you hear her name? Come on up. This is Janet Rifkin.
rich D squall.
Pam D Pasqual unrelated. Now I’m not just kidding. They’re married. SueAnn, Brian,
And I’m Junie
and Mary Ellen Underwood.
Why don’t you pray with me, father? We’re scared of our own needs. For honest, we don’t like them. We don’t want them. Even though they’re the very vehicles that you use. Our grief, our cross is to carry our loneliness is our insecurities are painful life circumstances. They’re the very vehicles of grace that we have learned to know and understand you when it comes to others’ needs.
We’re often intimidated not knowing what to do, what to say, wanting to help, but not know. Exactly. How thank you for an incredible group of people that have done training have put in time, effort, prayer, and their own life story. To raise their hand, to say I’m willing to walk towards those in. We honor you for the gift of these people and the team that they join to be reaching out to those in our church and community, because we believe what it means to be human is to embrace our need and embrace our need of you and our need of one another.
We give these people to you and the ministry they will do in Jesus name. Amen.
may God help you to be a listener of his word and be a caster of your curse may lead you to be generous hearted to those in need around you may, Iraq’s be inserted first this week and your eyes and heart open to the needs of. Now go in peace to love, serve and enjoy the Lord. .