Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reading Challenge: Acts 6

Welcome back everyone. I'm loving hearing your feedback on the passages from Acts. This creates such a great learning community. All of your insights are giving me new ways to approach these scriptures.

Today's reading is from Acts 6

Chapter 6:
We see here immediately that there was already some division in the early church. The Grecian and Hebraic Christians were already in conflict with each other (we will see this addressed in depth by Paul in the book of Romans). The conflict was over the daily food distribution. Here's the thing to remember: the food came from those who were giving it to the apostles for distribution. This was not a grocery store or food bank from a non-profit organization. The church was sharing its possessions with one another. Is it simply because of the way of life in the first century that this was possible or can this still happen in our world today? In what ways?

I also like how the apostles finally realized that the mission and task was getting bigger than their ability to do it all. They finally started involving others in the ministry and focused on the things that only they could do. Listen, I believe there is more horsepower in the seats of our churches than there are on elder teams, staffs, and lead pastors. This does not mean that these people are not needed, but they cannot carry the weight of all the ministry that needs to happen. Involving others in ministry is the key to expanding ministry beyond a handful of people to the masses.

Your thoughts?


  1. I love Stephen.

    He has the ear of the council because he is telling the familiar story of Israel's history, but he is about to turn the whole story upside down when he shows how Israel's entire history is a prelude to Jesus...fall and restoration, fall and restoration, etc.

    I understand that the movement had grown so large that the 12 could not do everything, so they had to begin delegating, but I always had trouble with the comment that it wasn't right that the 12 move away from the word of God to "wait on tables". Coming from Peter, and knowing his history of impetuousness, it always sounded a little arrogant to me.

    I think occasionally some Pastors do get the sense that they are too important to wait on tables (ie, because they are preaching God's word they are too good to get their hands dirty with the mundane tasks). Is it possible that sometimes forgetting how to "wait on tables" is why we keep hearing stories about pastors who fall from Grace due to their relational transgressions?

  2. Take Away

    v.7b : the priests became obedient to the faith....how often do we here of that today that Jewish priests are coming to the faith....in my opinion not often enough...

    v.8 Can people say of us that those who oopose us "can not w/stand the wisdom of the Spirit w/which we are speaking"? If not then we need to check ourselves...

    I like Todd have found problem with it not being right for the 12 to "wait on tables"...but then I got thinking about the scripture where each is a different body part..and each has a purpose...if we hold to this...then I think that there are simply things that could go wrong pulling a person from one ministry into another....I have to believe the reason that they could not be pulled away to wait on the tables is b/c they were the most equipped to preach the word and that if they had stepped into the roll of "waiting tables" the ministry might have not been as effective.

    Also...we could be getting in the way of God using others in areas He has them purposed for.

  3. Our God is a God of order and the bible says that the devil loves confussion.There were thousands of people from every nationality coming together under the flag of christianity.Each group had their own interests at heart and certain special needs.The growth was a blessing and a burden at the same time.True you can multi-task and do lots of things at the same time, but can you do them well?I can imagine Peter and the apostles praying in some small rom and then there is a knock at the door and it's brother so-and-so asking if there is any food for widow Goldstein?
    Moses had the same problem and he took some very wise advice from his father-in-law.Moses had 12 godly men to represent the 12 tribes.I wonder why Peter said to pick 7 men? Was it because there were 7 new churches at the time?
    Peter didn't just pick anybody at random to do the jobs either.That tells me these 7 men had an important mission for service within the church.You wouldn't want any of these men to become a distraction and put you back at square one.
    Also, if Peter kept "waiting tables" and addressed only the physical needs of the peole, the church would have become a social organization like the Salvation Army or Feed The Children instead of a living body of believers called the church.
    Back to Sunday's message about the growing number of churches that are dying...this could be a reason.Either the pastor/deacons is an egomaniac and wants to run everything or the people are apathetic and he can't do everything.I know several men who were deacons and they wanted it for the title. I don't know that the Journey has that title, but in our church, I can say there are several men I could talk to for a prayer need if I choose to.
    The organization worked well.vs 7 says that the word of God increased.Looks like the apostles were back to doing their primary function and we even see a great number of priests coming into the fold.WOW
    Miracles might get the attention of the common man, but the word reached into the very core of Judaism.Their priests were being converted!
    This seems to be where the church gets Satan's full attention and he goes after Stephen with Plan-C. Satan tries to amputate the church in hopes to make It weaker.
    He went after Stephen and there were people that had to be hired to lie about the man. It's a sad commentary I read the other day where a pastor didn't need anyone to make up lies about him;they were true.
    It's funny that Satan who you know knows the scriptures doesn't seem to remember the verse that says Christ is the head of the church. He see his attacks, but he doesn't seem to get a grip on the fact that he cannot kill it.

  4. Laurie,

    Your thoughts were my thoughts as well. What we see taking shape in this passage is structure and organization...not laziness. It was a huge responsibility to be leading this new movement, I don't think the apostles were to good to "wait on tables" afterall, they knew the idea of washing the feet of others. It just wasn't physically possible for them to continue doing all the mounting responsibilities.

    Great thoughts everyone.

  5. Although I agree with everyone's comments on the first part of this reading, it was the later that truly caught me this morning.

    "...but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke."

    THIS is powerful to me. I have made a lot of dumb, dumb, dumb decisions in life, but I have begged God for wisdom from a very early age. Satan can't stand a Christian who is living the voice of the Spirit. He can't stand up against it. Reading a verse like this inspires me to continue to seek wisdom because it proves the power it gives me in doing God's work, and in turn magnifying His glory.

    Although someone falsely testified against Stephen, the truth still shined through. God still was greater than the lie, as it reads:

    "All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel."

    Is that crazy powerful or what? Serve me up a plate of that all day long!

  6. I dig what Amber said...Stephen is one of my favorites in the entire NT. I get that the desciples had to make decisions in order to get things done and that they didn't choose Stephen haphazardly. I just don't like Peter's quote. Who knows...maybe in first century AD "waiting on tables" is a term of endearment!


  7. "And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel."

    Imagine a living testimony right before the eyes of unbelievers. A disciple whose face beamed with the presence of the Holy Spirit in such a way that it was like looking at the face of an angel.

    Image what it would be like today if we as believers actually radiated such a presence before others !

  8. I like Chapter 7 because it makes it clear that there were certain things that the apostles were responsible for and that it was OK for them to appoint others to tasks that would distract them from there particular calling. I believe that the apostles knew what they were called to do and how important it was to fulfill that calling. Just as it was important for Stephen and the others to fulfill there part. Some people may think that the Pastor of the church is being stuck up because he can't fulfill every expectation that every person has of him, but the truth is he as the Pastor has to devote himself to the roll of Pastor or he will not be able to do the work effectively. He will be spreading himself out to thin and instead of doing one thing very well he does 300 things poorly. We should do our part and fill in if needed but if there is the ability to delegate then by all means delegate. I know of a Pastor who used to clean the toilets in his church and while that is an admirable thing to do he also did many other things and was exhausted because of it.

    Also one of my favorite parts of Acts is coming up and it begins in verses 9 of chapter 6 and goes on into 7. Stephen spoke with wisdom that the people who opposed the Gospel could not stand up against. So it seems to me they got mad at him and started making stuff up. The last verse is awesome when it says that they were all staring at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel. When we are persecuted for our faith and reviled for the name of Christ we are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon us. When we are persecuted God gives us the wisdom and the power to back up what is being said. Where did Stephen get that wisdom? He knew the scriptures. So he had the word in him and when it was needed God gave him the boldness and Spirit to speak what needed to be said at that time even when he knew that it was possible that he may be killed for it. It speaks to how important it is for us to have the Word in us and how important it is for us to be able to give a reason for the hope that we proclaim.

  9. Hey everyone. Sorry I'm jumping in so late, but I've had a crazy day! This is the first time I've had the chance to get in front of a computer and not do work!

    If you guys will look at some different translations, you'll see that the "waiting tables" reference is also referred to as: running a food program.

    I know that some people may have problems with the language that was used. But let's be honest. This is a first hand account of a bunch of guys having a real conversation. You wouldn't have heard eloquent talk from any of these guys. They said what they thought and meant what they said. I don't think there's anything wrong with Peter saying this. I believe that Peter understood that without order and structure, you invite chaos. Our God is a God of structure and order. Don't think so? Go read the creation story in Genesis! The very first thing we see from our God is order.

    Though he was merely a working man, Peter wasn't stupid. He understood that God had appointed those to be teachers, and those to be elders and so on and so forth. I think Peter's assessment of the situation was nothing more than pointing out the obvious. They couldn't focus on running a food program. They had been instructed, by Jesus, to preach the good news. They had been called to be the Teachers. It was up to someone else to facilitate the food ministry. I agree with John P. We have to understand that no, one job is more important than another when it comes to the church. But each is called for something that is intricate to the body's effectiveness and health. And we have to recognize that those who are called to preach and teach or sing or do women's ministry or a food program, need to do that which he or she has been called to do. And leave the rest for someone else.

    The only other thing that really stood out to me, you guys all hit on as well. The face of Stephen appearing to be "angelic". Here's what's cool to me about that. We have to remember... a lot of these people had actually seen angels. We hear all the time, in scripture, how an angel of the Lord appeared to so and so.... etc. They actually knew what an angelic face looked like. So, for them to equate Stephen's appearance to look like that, it just gives weight to the fact that Stephen was speaking with the authority of Heaven. And it must've scared those in the Sanhedrin who were mocking him.