Determined disciples

RE Verse reading–Acts 6:1-7, 11:27-30 (day seven)  “The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea”  (11:29)  A word easily missed.  Very meaningful when not.  The disciples determined that they would do something to help.  Even if they could not do MUCH (according to their ability) they would do SOMETHING.  They were determined.  The word in Greek is horizo. (like horizon)  It meant to draw a line, make a mark.  In the case of money, it meant to “mark offor “ear mark” funds for special use.  It is something that takes place in the individual heart.  Luke is clear that “each” of the believers made this decision.  None of us can be corporately effective unless we are individually sacrificial.  It is an indication of the Holy Spirit.  When followers of Christ hear of a need, we volunteer to do something about it.  Inspiring story!  May the Lord make us determined to serve.

The community called together

RE Verse reading–Acts 6:1-7, 11:27-30 (day six)  “And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples”  (6:2)  A very practical lesson.  The twelve called the church together and they came!  Like a business meeting –only with more people.  To avoid the fracturing effects of rumor and racial prejudice, a decision was required.  The Apostles knew that they needed the full support of the congregation.  The solution (in an age before E mail or “The Table”) was to call a meeting.  As a Pastor, I know this territory well.   Significant challenges are ahead for FBC.  Wonderful opportunities!  But after prayer and seeking the guidance of the Lord,  the next thing that we will need is to meet together and unite our hearts re. God’s direction for us.  October 28 is one of those “all-together” moments.  The annual “State of the Church” congregational meeting allows an opportunity for our whole family to to think together.  When called together will you come?

Senior adults and the church

RE Verse reading–Acts 6:1-7, 11:27-30 (day five)  “Now during those days. . .the Hellenists complained. . .because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food”  (6:1)  There is an application here for the modern church.  While all widows in the ancient world were not AARP eligible, the majority were and the church felt responsibility for them.  Was it actual discrimination or just the perception?  Not sure.  What is clear is that the church had a plan to meet these needs.  Paul later gave the conditions under which a widow should be “put on the list”.  Wise management will be required but the example is clear.  I am grateful for Julie Webster. . .I am grateful for the FBC Deacons. . .I am grateful for the FBC Aging Team (Judy Vasil and Barbara Warnock and volunteers). . .  I am grateful for Larry Soape and the Senior Adult Sunday School classes and workers. . . for all those who help us care for Senior Adults.

Devoted to prayer

RE Verse reading–Acts 6:1-7, 11:27-30 (day four)  “We. . . will devote ourselves to prayer and to the serving of the word” (6:4)  I do not believe what is often said about this verse–the suggestion that being “devoted to prayer” is a task unique to preachers.  “You guys work the food program.  We will pray and preach” is the implied translation of the Apostles words.  Perhaps we would accept this division of labor if this text were all we had.  The rest of the Bible, however, rings with the call to prayer for EVERY believer.  “Pray without ceasing”, says Paul to the Thessalonians. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  “If my PEOPLE (not my preachers) will humble themselves and pray. . . Better to interpret the familiar words in Acts 6 as a commitment by preachers to pray (in preparation for their work of service) and all others to do the same.  No exemptions here.  Nothing else will prepare us for Spiritual service.  We are ALL to be devoted to prayer.

God’s word spreading

RE Verse reading–Acts 6:1-7, 11:27-30 (day three)  “The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem”  (6:7)  Strange word.  Fascinating.  Instructive.  We speak of spreading icing on a cake or spreading fertilizer on a lawn, but spreading God’s word?  The picture is of something in one place and then several. . .one heart and then many.  Applied to God’s word it describes the exanding circles of people who are hearing God speaking.  Note the means by which this takes place.  When a congregation faces it’s problems honestly and prayerfully and in practical unity, people “hear” the Lord’s voice!  Amazing.  Our influence in this community may have as much to do with how we work together to find and do God’s will as with what we preach.  Problems are inevitable.  How we face them is clearly a Spirit-led and people-blessing choice.  As we listen to the Lord and love each other, the word of God keeps spreading.

deacons all

RE Verse reading–Acts 6:1-7, 11:27-30 (day two)  “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait tables. . .will we devote ourselves to prayer and serving the word.”  (6:2, 4)  It is not apparent in English, but in vs 2 and 4 Luke uses the same word to describe two kinds of service.  The word is diakonos (deacon–to serve).  An action rather rather than an office, at least in this instance.  In vs 2 the call is to serve (diakonos) tables.  In vs 4 the call is to serve (diakonos) the word.  Notice the similarity?  No matter what our assignment is in the Kingdom we are all (always) called to humility.  None of us is higher or lower.  Our essential assignment is the same–to seek the Glory of God and the good of others.  “The greatest among you will be the servants” said the Lord in Matthew 20:26.  Different assignments–the same heart.  We are all called to be “small d” deacons.

Servants for the Savior

RE Verse reading–Acts 6:1-7, 11:27-30 (day one)  “Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task. (6: 3)  Many people believe this narrative marks the beginning of the deacon ministry.  While not called deacons (Greek deaconos, “servant”) in this story, the pattern is beginning to emerge.  There were (and always will be) MANY necessary tasks in the life of a church that  ministers will not have skill or time to care for.  To these tasks are called dedicated men who serve the Savior alongside the ministers.  It is not hard for me to speak on this subject.  For over 25 years I have witnessed the valuable contribution that Deacons make to the life and ministry of a New Testament church.  I have been priviledged to serve with them.  They have provided me the opportunity to pray and preach! I thank God for the deacons I have known.

Faithful in suffering

RE Verse reading–Acts 4:5-31 (day seven)  “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness”  (vs 29)  It will cost us our lives.  Jesus warned us.  The recovery of Christianity will depend on our willingness to embrace this Christ-clarified conviction.  We will need to be bold even when it is unpopular.  In Acts 4, the persecution is mild, threats mainly.  By Acts 8, it will become cruel and public.  One form or another it continues to this very day.  But no matter how fierce, the opposition of the world is not enough to block the powerful momentum of Spirit-led Life.  Are we willing to pay this price?  1 Peter gives a clear summary of what is ahead and what is expected for those who love Christ.  “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps”  (1 Peter 2:21)  May the Lord make us faithful.

Spirit not safety

RE Verse reading–Acts 4:5-31 (day six)  “Know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed”  (vs 10)  It must have been intimidating.  To say the least.  They were standing in the same hall with the same people who had condemned Jesus to a gruesome death just weeks before.  Did the disciples comprehend the danger?  Certainly.  But these were men who were no longer navigating life with a view to personal safety or success.  Their new operating system was to walk with the Spirit of God–no matter what!  The consequence?  A fearlessness and clarity that the world had never seen.  The results would be the same in us.  “For God has not given us a Spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline”  (2 Timothy 1:7)  If my people will humble themselves and pray. . .

No other name

RE Verse reading–Acts 4:5-31 (day five)  “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed”  (vs 10)  God has a competitive side.  He does not feel guilty winning.  The universe benefits when He does.  In Acts 4, Peter notices and verbalizes God’s assertiveness. ” You crucified Christ. . .God raised Him from the dead and healed a man in His name.”  Boldly Peter preaches an uncompromising message that is regarded by the world as narrow and disrespectful.  “There is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”  (vs 12)  “Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which (God has made) the cornerstone.” (vs 11)  Men prefer several ways.  God has given ONE way.  We prefer tolerance and diversity and consensus.  God declares His sovereign wisdom.  It is an argument that God will win.  “If my people will HUMBLE themselves and pray. . .