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Title Page Lesson Six Acts 6:1-2 Acts 6:1-2 1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Acts 6:3-5 Acts 6:3-5 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Acts 6:6-8 Acts 6:6-8 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. 8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Focus Verse Romans 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Focus Thought Every Christian has a ministry and calling to use his individual abilities and talents for the glory of God. Those who serve must be spiritual, wise, and willing to minister. Introduction Introduction The Book of Acts recorded the rapid growth of the early church. At the birth of the church on the Day of Pentecost, ―there were added unto them about three thousand souls‖ (Acts 2:41), and the Lord continued to add more believers daily (Acts 2:47). Even persecution could not stop the church‘s phenomenal growth. After the first outside attacks on the church, the Lord added approximately five thousand men (Acts 4:4). By this time, the congregation numbered at least twenty thousand, and Luke indicated that God later added ―multitudes both of men and women‖ to the number of believers. (See Acts 5:14.) Introduction The early church certainly had all the signs that identify a growing, spiritual church. • Worship. They believed in glorifying God. • Instruction. They believed in training disciples. • Fellowship. They believed in loving one another. • Evangelism. They believed in winning the lost to Jesus Christ. • Service. They believed in caring for the needs of others. Introduction Since the church experienced such phenomenal growth, it became difficult for the apostles to minister to everyone. In the most exciting moments in the history of the early-church revival, a dissension arose among the people. Introduction Persecution and corruption failed to stop the church, but internal fighting now threatened its progress. Disunity and division was ready to achieve what beatings and imprisonments had not been able to accomplish. Fortunately, however, the church corrected this error and continued to move forward in revival, refusing to allow their differences to derail revival. Spiritual Growth I. Spiritual Growth (A) Brings Physical Challenges In Jewish society, widows were particularly needy and dependent. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament single them out along with orphans as those most in need of help. Spiritual Growth (A) I. A natural division already existed within the church because on the Day of Pentecost thousands of Hebrew Jews who were born in Israel united with Grecian Jews born outside the Holy Land. As wonderful as the new-birth experience was, it did not erase all their earlier prejudices, and the Grecian widows soon began feeling ignored in the daily distribution of food. Spiritual Growth (A) I. The word ―murmuring‖ comes from the Greek word gongysmos. The translators of the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, used the same word for the murmuring of the people against Moses in the wilderness. (See Exodus 16:7; Numbers 14:27.) Spiritual Growth (A) I. When the Grecian Christians at Jerusalem began complaining, they simply did so among themselves instead of appealing to those in authority. Their grievances soon became contagious, and the church was in turmoil. Spiritual are unhappy (A) I. When Christians Growthand begin to murmur, they should always begin by first searching their own hearts. One day a family traveling down the highway I. Spiritual Growth (A) between Johnstown and Jamestown stopped at Farmer Jones‘ place for a drink of water, which he gladly gave them. ―Where are you headed?‖ he asked them. ―We are moving from Johnstown to Jamestown to live,‖ they told him. ―Can you tell us what the people are like?‖ ―Well, what kind of people did you find where you lived before?‖ Farmer Jones asked. ―Oh, they were the very worst kind!‖ the people said. ―They were gossipy and unkind and indifferent. We are glad to move away.‖ ―Well, I am afraid you will find the same in Jamestown,‖ replied Farmer Jones. The next day another car stopped at the farm, and I. Spiritual Growth (A) the same conversation took place. These people were moving to Jamestown, too. ―What kind of neighbors will we find there?‖ they asked. ―Well,‖ said Farmer Jones, ―what kind of neighbors did you have where you lived before?‖ ―Oh, they were the very best! They were so kind and considerate that it almost broke our hearts to have to move away.‖ ―Well, you will find exactly the same kind again,‖ replied Farmer Jones (R. Kent Hughes, Acts: The Church Afire [Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1996], 98-99). A. The Word Must Take Priority (A) I. Spiritual Growth Many pastors and church leaders must deal with petty issues that hinder them from accomplishing God‘s highest purposes in ministry. They may have to miss a prayer meeting in order to repair the plumbing or the bus. Bible study and preparation for teaching can give way to menial tasks that daily confront them. Such necessary tasks can become distractions that potentially inhibit the church‘s progress. Spiritual Growthand the preaching (A) I.Uppermost in the minds of the apostles was the necessity of maintaining prayer of the Word of God. They were convinced that their primary calling was to proclaim the Word of God and lead in the spiritual matters of the church. Sometimes a person demonstrates false modesty when he states, ―If Jesus washed the disciples feet, then I can clean the bathrooms.‖ is not one‘s willingness or I.The issueseeminglyGrowth but resistance to Spiritual menial tasks, (A) letting such perform his tasks cause him to neglect what God has called him to do. As one person said, ―When I do your job, I am not doing my job, and we both are denied a blessing.‖ Spiritual Growth physical seek of apostles delegated the daily (A) I.Thechurch to others. ―Therefore, brethren,needsout the from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business‖ (Acts 6:3, NKJV). The apostles did not regard this work as beneath their dignity, but it was outside their primary calling. B. The Gospel Moves in a Physical Realm I. Spiritual Growth (B) William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, was interviewed near the close of his life. He stated to the interviewer: ―God had all there was of me. There have been others who had greater plans, greater opportunities than I; but from the day I got a vision of what God could do, I made up my mind God would have all there was of William Booth.‖ I. Spiritual Growth (B) When the New Testament speaks of ministering to the saints, it does not mean just preaching to them; it rather involves the devoting of time, effort, and substance to provide all the practical help possible. As our supreme example, Jesus taught that the purpose of leadership and ministry is to serve. Matthew 20:26-28 “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28). Spiritual comes from the same I.The word minister Growth (B) Greek word from which we get our title deacon, and it means ―an attendant, a waiter, a servant.‖ Therefore, ministry is using what God has given us to serve Him and others. In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren used the word shape as an acronym for Rick Warren SHAPE The Physical Realm II. The Physical Realm Must Be Delegated to Godly Men and Women It is interesting that Jesus, who could do all things, realized the limitations of His humanity. His leadership and ministry on this earth began with the choosing and equipping of twelve men, who in just three and one-half years would assume the leadership of the church. Church growth advocate Tim Massengale wrote: II. The Physical Realm ―In his book A Quest for Vitality in Religion, F. B. Edge draws a marked distinction between ‗the work of the Church‘ and ‗church work.‘ Church work is the every day routine of necessary, but often superficial, tasks. After all, someone must have the church van inspected, copy off the Sunday bulletin, and take Sunday‘s offering deposit to the bank. . . . On the other hand, ‗The work of the Church‘ is to do the tasks that Jesus would be doing if He was pastoring in your place‖ (Tim Massengale, Total Church Growth, Vol. 1, 1-1). What would Jesus do if He lived in our II. The Physical Realm community? Perhaps a good answer appears in Matthew‘s Gospel: ―And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people‖ (Matthew 9:35). ―Did you ever go to the bank and find the president II. The Physical Realm typing the interoffice bulletin for printing? It‘s not that he‘s too good to prepare the bulletin or feels that it‘s beneath him. Rather, he‘s simply too busy; he has more important things to do. His time is valuable. True, the bulletin needs to be typed, but let others do it. Let the pastor give himself to study, to prayer, and to winning the lost. Delegation is not so a pastor can sit back and do nothing; it is so he can do the things only he can do!‖ (Total Church Growth, Vol. 1, 1-1–1-2). A. Moses Delegated to Leaders II. The Physical Realm (A) According to L. A. Allen, ―Delegation is entrusting responsibility and authority and establishing lines of accountability‖ (quoted in Total Church Growth, Vol. 1, 1-2). The Book of Exodus reveals the enormous load that Moses carried as he led the Israelites through the wilderness. (See Exodus 18:13-26.) Up to this point, the people of Israel had II. The Physical Realm (A) experienced deliverance from Egypt and the bondage of Pharaoh. God had taken them through the Red Sea on dry ground, fed them manna from heaven, and enabled them to be victorious over the Amalekites. Now, they were camped next to Mount Sinai. After all these accomplishments, Moses‘ leadership was stymied by his determination to handle all the work himself. He was settling disputes and counseling people from morning to evening until his father-in-law, Jethro, pulled him aside and advised him to delegate the workload. It is interesting that after he delegated various II. The Physical Realm (A) responsibilities to others, Moses had a great encounter with God and received the Ten Commandments. What Moses had been doing was both important and urgent, but someone else could better accomplish these tasks so Moses could seek God. B. Qualifications for Leaders II. The Physical Realm (B) Leaders should not only be called of God but also meet certain qualifications in order for the Lord to use them effectively. The greater the position of trust and influence, the more stringent the qualifications should be. II. The Physical Realm (B) ―The universal church has the authority to recognize God‘s calling upon a person, to ascertain his qualifications, to send him forth into the ministry, to evaluate his subsequent teachings and actions, to ask for a report of his activities, to recommend a course of action, and to establish standards for continual fellowship. (See Acts 13:2- 3; 21:17-26; I Timothy 1:19-20; 3:1-7; III John 9- 12.)‖ (J. T. Pugh, The Forward, January, 1993.) II. The Physical Realm (B) Apostolic leaders receive divine authority only as they submit themselves to authority. One reason for the outstanding characteristics of Christ‘s ministry was that the people listened to Him and recognized that He spoke with authority (Matthew 7:29). How was Jesus able to do this? The centurion revealed the key: he understood that a person who is under authority could exercise authority (Matthew 8:8-9). II. The Physical Realm (B) The Book of Acts clearly defines qualifications for leaders in the church: 1. Have an Honest Report. For God to use us, it is essential that we be honest and trustworthy. Certainly, a person in leadership should be credible so that people find it easy to follow him. One who aspires to a leadership position need not think he can fill that role without the trust of others. When Fred Phillips, retired public-safety director II. The Physical Realm (B) and police chief of Johnson City, Tennessee, was a regular police officer, he and his partner pulled over an unlicensed motorist. They asked the man to follow them to the police station. While en route, they spotted a North Carolina vehicle whose license plate and driver matched the description in an all-points bulletin. The officers took off in a high-speed chase, and finally stopped the wanted man‘s car. Minutes later, as the felon was being arrested, the unlicensed motorist drove up. ―If y‘all will just tell me how to get to the station, I‘ll wait for you there,‖ he said. ―I‘m having a time trying to keep up with you.‖ 2. Be Full of the Holy Ghost. One of the first II. The Physical Realm (B) characteristics the disciples were to look for in leaders was that they be full of the Holy Ghost. Certainly, that is important since the Holy Spirit would provide unity among the leaders. Writing to young pastor Timothy, Paul provided him with some other practical qualities that should be in a church leader. ―Likewise must the deacons be grave, not II. The Physical Realm (B) doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well‖ (I Timothy 3:8-12). 3. Be Full of Wisdom. Wisdom is necessary to II. The Physical Realm (B) minister in the kingdom of God. Ministry requires the knowledge that comes from faithfulness to the house of God and from the study of His Word. Pastor F. Joe Ellis noted: ―It is estimated that a person who has gone to church faithfully, from ages eighteen to forty, has been exposed to approximately 4,000 hours of preaching and teaching. II. The Physical Realm (B) The same person could have received a bachelor‘s degree in college with approximately 1,800 hours in the classroom. For a master‘s degree, it would be 3,150 hours. But for 4,000 hours of training, he could receive a doctorate‖ (The Forward, April 1992). What wisdom we find in the Word of God! II. The Physical Realm (B) According to Solomon, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, defined as ―the ability to discern what is true or right.‖ The English word has both moral implications, discerning what is right, and intellectual implications, discerning what is true. Ministry in the Physical III. Ministry in the Physical Realm Is Necessary Jesus clearly stated that ministry of spiritual things was closely related to the ministering of physical needs within the community. (See Matthew 25:41- 45.) When we use the word love in association with God, we also find an accompanying action. We should consider the words of John 3:16 in light of this principle: ―For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son‖ (John 3:16, italics added for emphasis). Ministry in the Physical III.God‘s love is demonstrative. He does not merely say, ―I love you,‖ but He proves it with His actions. The love of God is living and active, tangible and easily recognized. When God pours out His love, action always accompanies it. Ministry us the Physical III.God‘s love within incalls us to loving service. Jesus equates our acts of kindness on behalf of those in need around us as acts of kindness given to Him: ―Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me‖ (Matthew 25:45). Ministry in the W. Tozer made III.Renowned Christian author A.Physical this observation: ―Before the judgment seat of Christ my service will be judged not by how much I have done but by how much I could have done! In God‘s sight, my giving is measured not by how much I have given but how much I have left after I made my gift . . . not by its size is my gift judged, but by how much of me there is in it. No man gives at all until he has given all! No man gives anything acceptable to God until he has first given himself in love and sacrifice‖ (A. W. Tozer, Renewed). Ministry in the Physical III.Jesus used the images of sheep and goats to describe two different groups of people based on how well they served those who were in need around them. He said that the sheep were those who saw the needy and responded to their needs with acts of loving service. On the other hand, the goats were those who saw the same needs but failed to act to alleviate the suffering they witnessed. As a result of their decisions, each was given what was due—to the sheep was given great reward; to the goats a harsh judgment. Ministry in the Physical III.As a man was coming out of the church service, the preacher was standing at the door as he always did to shake hands. Grabbing the man by the hand and pulling him aside, the pastor said, ―You need to join the army of the Lord!‖ The guy replied, ―What do you mean? I‘m saved! I‘m already in the army of the Lord, Pastor.‖ The pastor questioned, ―How come I don‘t see you except at Easter, Mother‘s Day, and Christmas?‖ He whispered back, ―I‘m in the secret service.‖ A. Visiting Prisoners III. Ministry in the Physical (A) Spending time behind the walls and fences of correctional facilities are millions of men and women whom society has locked away because of their crimes. Each one of them has a soul for whom Jesus died when He went to the cross. In Jesus‘ first sermon, He specifically cited those in prison as some of those whom He had come to save (Luke 4:18). III. Ministry in the Physical (A) The mission of the church is not to secure their release from the physical prison of stone and barbed wire, but to deliver them from their spiritual prison of sin, guilt, and desperation. Without Jesus Christ, the prisoner has no hope. While the prisoner cannot reverse his crime, God will forgive it when he obeys the gospel message. B. Visiting the Sick III. Ministry in the Physical (B) Throughout America, many of the hospitals and healthcare systems bear the names of religious groups. Although various large corporations may now own them, these names reflect a time when churches took quite literally Jesus‘ commandment to care for the sick and the dying. III. Ministry in the Physical (B) The Old Testament prophet asked the rhetorical question, ―Is there no balm in Gilead . . . ?‖ (Jeremiah 8:22). God intended the church to be a place of healing and recovery. Jesus‘ death included provision for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. The prophet Isaiah declared, ―But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed‖ (Isaiah 53:5). C. Caring for the Widows III. Ministry in the Physical and Fatherless (C) The role of both a husband and a father is to protect and provide for his family. When he deprives his family of that support, God has mandated that the church care for them. In modern society where government plays such a large role in providing a social safety net, the church may feel that it no longer has a part to play. However, the needs of widows and children with single or no parents go far beyond medical care, food, and shelter. Indeed, the church should reach out to assure that those who are most vulnerable in our communities are never left out or forgotten. D. Giving to the Needs of the in the III. Ministry Poor Physical (D) Someone taunted a young boy in the ghetto by saying, ―If God loves you, why doesn‘t He take care of you? Why doesn‘t God tell someone to bring you shoes and a warm coat and better food?‖ The young boy thought for a moment and then, with tears starting in his eyes, said, ―I guess He does tell somebody, but somebody forgets.‖ III. Ministry in the Physical (D) God places many people along our paths to help, and He has chosen us to be the answer to alleviate much of the suffering around us. God will call us to account for those opportunities—offering us blessing or judgment based on how we respond. Certainly, God will judge us based on our loving service. E. Being Hospitable III. Ministry in the Physical (E) and hotels, but it still plays Hospitality has almost become a lost art in our day of fast food restaurants an important part in ministry. When a new family visits the church, the ministry of hospitality should motivate believers to invite them either to a church member‘s home or to a local restaurant for a meal. Moreover, the ministry of hospitality should cause us to reach to someone who is ill or bedridden, or to a family who has recently lost a loved one. Certainly, these acts of caring speak more loudly than words. F. Serving through the Ministry the Physical III. Ministry in of Helps (E) God does not call everyone to preach or to sing, but many other opportunities are available for one to give of himself through the ministry of helps. Cooking meals, maintaining the church facilities, driving a Sunday school bus, or printing a newsletter are examples of ways in which someone may minister to the needs in the church. G. Sharing Craftsmanship III. Ministry in the Physical Skills (G) Just as God may give a musician great talents to use for Him, He may also entrust someone else with other talents. Sewing, woodworking, construction, artwork, and computer skills are just a few of the many talents of craftsmanship that a person could dedicate to the purpose of God‘s kingdom. (See Exodus 31:3.) Reflections The work of the church could never be a one-man show. It takes the efforts of many people with various talents working together to affect their world with the gospel. Moreover, every Christian has a ministry and a calling to use his abilities and talents for the glory of God. When a church utilizes these various ministries, the work of God reaches its fullest potential. Reflections Those who serve in the church should be spiritual, wise, and willing to minister to others. When they serve others, they also are serving Jesus Christ.
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