Sermon for Jericho Road Church on October 23rd, 2016. Notes below:
Acts chapter 6, verses 1 to 7:
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “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.” 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 Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. (1-6)
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. (7)
Delegation & Discipleship
The apostles made the congregation a part of the solution to the controversy. They let the congregation choose seven men of good character. The apostles freed the people up to serve one another, growing spiritually in the process.
Is there anything we can learn from this early example of instituting the first deacons? Does the idea of stepping out in service, even leadership, excite us or make us uncomfortable? Do we see the value of servant-hearted leadership?
Prayer, preparation, & preaching
The apostles primary concern was that they not give up preaching the word of God. They didn’t want to be distracted from prayer and the ministry of the word. They saw their need to delegate and equip others for ministry. They had to.
Have we strayed from this early example of the apostles? Do we make time for devotion to prayer and preparation for what God has called us to? Or do we expect our leaders to be everything for everyone? Do we want our pastors to be Jesus?
Our hope in Jesus
The apostles and first deacons were following the example of their Lord. Jesus came as a servant, caring for those in need. He discipled and equipped others for ministry. He devoted himself to prayer and the preaching of the word of God.
With Jesus’ example, empowered by his Holy Spirit, we can be faithful in this ministry we’re called to as well. It’s only by his strength. Left to ourselves, we’re either passive bystanders or tempted to pridefully take everything on ourselves.