Sunday, 30 August 2015

Bible Reading: Acts 6v1-7

"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.  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.  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 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’

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.  They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

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."

People often talk of two typical responses to danger.  When we sense a threat our system is flooded with adrenaline and we either take flight or fight.  Though there seems to be a third less talked about response of freezing.  But here in Acts we see the very distinctive way God's people respond to the dangers they have faced.  Danger for the early church is, under God's sovereign grace, an opportunity to grow.

Have you noticed how every time Satan has tried to derail the church it has come through the danger stronger and growing with more people having heard the gospel.  You see it in Acts 4 when the danger is persecution and in chapter 5 when internal corruption is the issue.  It’s the same here.   (1-2)Start off with the church in danger of division and distraction but by verse 7 it ends with the word of God being spread and keeping on spreading and the number of disciples in Jerusalem not just growing but growing rapidly and even some of the priests coming to faith.

The multiplied ministry of the church both in word and in action that results from the Apostles seeing the danger and leading the church to deal decisively with it results in an even great spreading of the gospel.  Freed from division and distraction the gospel is unleashed.   And even priests come to faith. The gospel will not be overcome it will not be derailed.  Isn't that an enormous encouragement?  When we face danger it is an opportunity to grow.

Growth isn’t a problem, though it will pose challenges.  Differences aren’t the problem, division caused by grumbling is.  Distraction from teaching the Bible well with good things can cripple the church.  Do you see the solutions?  We need to make sure that those who teach the bible can teach it well and have the time to do so.  We need to be multiplying ministers among ourselves so that we meet needs and the gospel we’re taught is at work in us as a church and the world sees and is won by the good news of Jesus.

No comments: