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Friday, December 30 2011

Introduction

Last week, we looked at how the apostles responded in the face of challenge. They chose to obey God; they didn't fight back or protest; instead they took suffering in Jesus' name with dignity and they were consistently relentless. We learnt that When Conviction meets with Pride, it amounts to Guilt but when meets with Humility, it leads to Repentance [Acts 5:33, 2:37]

THE CHALLENGES

The first verse reveals growth. Not just in believers but disciples!

"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing," Acts 6: 1a

A disciple is a follower, one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another

But with such increase comes challenges. Let's look at what challenges the apostles faced and the wisdom they applied in tackling the challenges. Once again, these are steps worthy of emulation.

CHALLENGE 1

FROM WITHIN- Nepotism (Favouritism shown or patronage granted to relatives) Acts 6:1b

"The Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food."

The Hellenistic Jews were Greek speaking believers while the Hebraic Jews were the Hebrew speaking believers.

It is not different from what we experience today; people come into the church and they are segregated indirectly because we tend to stick only to those we know (either by tradition or affiliation) and become insensitive to the needs of others.

RESOLUTION Verses 2-4

 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."

What can we learn from this move?

  1. They did not ignore the problem or reduce its importance ( they could have as well spiritualised the matter and blame the people for not praying enough)
  2. They identified what their duties were; they didn't interfere and become side tracked
  3. They allowed the people choose for themselves (but with criteria) they did not lord it over the people. (Order from above)
  4. They let the people know what the game plan was - no secrecy, no deceit. They were transparent.

 

The Outcome

For the people - Satisfaction (they felt responsible and went ahead and did the task)

Verses 5-6 "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."

For the work - Further Growth (Ground breaking growth!)

Even Priests were giving their lives to Christ!

Verse 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".

CHALLENGE 2

FROM WITHOUT - Opposition & Conspiracy (scriptures fulfilled)

Verses 8-15[MSG]

"Stephen, brimming with God's grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them. But then some men from the meeting place whose membership was made up of freed slaves, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and some others from Cilicia and Asia, went up against him trying to argue him down. But they were no match for his wisdom and spirit when he spoke.

So in secret they bribed men to lie: "We heard him cursing Moses and God." That stirred up the people, the religious leaders, and religion scholars. They grabbed Stephen and took him before the High Council. They put forward their bribed witnesses to testify: "This man talks nonstop against this Holy Place and God's Law. We even heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth would tear this place down and throw out all the customs Moses gave us." As all those who sat on the High Council looked at Stephen, they found they couldn't take their eyes off him?his face was like the face of an angel!"

Conclusion

I have underlined some parts of the scripture above; we will conclude with looking at them

  • First they tried to argue him down but they were no match. Verses 8-10

Why?

He was armed with the scriptures; he knew what he was talking about (Read 2 Timothy 1:13, Col 4: 5-6)

  • Then they bribed people to lie just like they did to Jesus

If it happened to Jesus, we should get ready. With growth comes a lot of challenges; handling these challenges properly leads to satisfaction and further growth. Though the challenges may be very difficult, Christ has promised never to leave us alone.

 

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:38 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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