Saturday, April 17, 2010

Acts 6

1In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2So 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. 3Brothers, 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 4and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."
5This 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. 6They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
8Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.
11Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, "We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God."
12So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13They produced false witnesses, who testified, "This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us."
15All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Questions to consider:

• What growing pains does the early church experience?
• What is your attitude toward routine service?
• Describe the attitude of the twelve toward priorities in their lives.
• To what does God want you to give priority in your life?
• What are the practical results in Jerusalem after the church makes a division of labor?
• After the problem within the church is settled, what problem does the church now face
from outside?
• What evidences God’s presence with Stephen?
• Have you ever been in a situation similar to Stephen’s? What have you done?

Possibilities for prayer:

Even the early church, which had members who had been able to talk to and interact with Jesus in the flesh, had some of its own problems. But reliance upon the Holy Spirit leads to the development of a successful plan, that allows the Good News to spread even farther. Let’s pray that we would be able to identify the places and tasks to which we are best suited within the church, asking for humility and wisdom in assessing these, so that as a community we can come together and meet the needs of all who are a part.