New Servants

New Servants

Acts 6:1-7 reveals how the early church grew to where the 12 Apostles could no longer handle all the needs.  What could they do?

Thousands of new Christians were there in Jerusalem at this point.  The Apostles had faced arrest and beatings for their efforts to proclaim the gospel, and they rejoiced that they had been counted worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus.  They had arranged for a daily distribution of food to the needy among them as they served and cared for the members of the church.

Great success sometimes brings greater challenges.

Acts 6 opens with a problem that had the potential of dividing the church.  The Hellenistic Christians were beginning to complain against the Judaic Christians about how the handouts were being made.  It seems that some were being overlooked and left hungry, and these some happened to all be Hellenistic.  Hmmm.

Fellowship in Christ means we are all on equal standing under the cross. Not the all are equally mature or endowed with gifts, but all are equal as family in the Lord’s church.

The Apostles were confronted with this issue and they gathered the church together to handle it.  “Choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom and we will give this responsibility over to them.”

It was a wise leadership decision.  The entire church was involved and seven men were selected, installed with blessings and prayer, and the need was met.

God’s word then says this: THEN THE WORD OF GOD SPREAD AND THE NUMBER OF THE DISCIPLES MULTIPLIED GREATLY IN JERUSALEM, AND A GREAT MANY OF THE PRIESTS BECAME OBEDIENT TO THE FAITH. (vs 7)

Seeking, saving and serving!  These all continued as God led the church forward into wider leadership and greater service.

Today, we are excited to have six men who will be added to the role of “Deacon” here in our church family.  All of these men have agreed to this calling under the leadership of our elders.  Our congregation has had opportunity to offer any objection to any of them and no one has done so. Today, as our elders have installed these men into the office of Servant/Minister, we rejoice in God’s blessing and praise Him.  We also enter into prayer for each of these men and their families as they take on their particular ministry role.

It just so happens that our NT 90 reading this week took us through 1 Timothy and Titus, the only books in the New Testament to give us information about the qualities of elders and deacons specifically.

As we look at the political situation in our nation today, it comes to me that God has given us a golden opportunity to be a light and salt as regards character in leadership.  Today’s political scene is so ugly with immoral and divisive display.  It is heartbreaking to hear and see the decline all around us.

Thank God for His word to the church to stand for character and demand Christ like quality from those who serve as our leaders.  The church that takes this seriously and follows God’s word obediently will surely be blessed.

1 Timothy 3:8-13 is unique in our Bibles.  This brief passage is the only one of it’s kind as regards it’s instruction about the qualities of a deacon.

When I was young and our church family would install deacons or elders from time to time, I remember the the preachers would always turn to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and go through the list of character qualities necessary for men to serve in these roles.

I would be bored to death.

As a child, I didn’t realize how important this is.  I assumed everyone who was a Christian should behave and do what God wanted.  As years have passed, I began to realize what a treasure these words are.  They give us insight into God’s heart and instruction for God’s servants that are priceless.

Looking through the list of things given that deacons MUST have to serve, the first one strikes me the most:  New KJV says – “reverent”  KJV says – “grave”  NIV says – “Worthy of respect”  RSV says – “serious”.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I find it interesting that the translators use such a wide variety of expressions to translate this greek word.  The original word is “symnos” and it carries the idea of someone who is aware of God’s presence.  The deacon must realize God is with him and present in his doings.  This sounds a bit like what Acts 6 says: “full of the Holy Spirit.”  Just think of how important it is for the ministering servant of God to know that God is there as he carries on the work of service.  Conversely, imagine what might happen if he is not aware of God’s presence!

We can thank God for such men as these who work with us and for us as elders and deacons in this congregation.  Brothers, our prayers are with you!  May God lead you as you lead and serve us.

The next words in 1 Timothy 3:8-9 are these:

Not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding to the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.

We could easily make a sermon from each of these.  I will leave them for you to reflect on.

Verse 11 speaks to the deacon’s wives.  Yes, it is important not only that the deacon be aware of God’s presence, but the same word occurs first in this list too.

Verse 12 makes it clear that deacons must be good family men first.  This is so that they can serve as models for the rest of the churches families.

Finally, verse 13 gives deacons a great promise of reward for their service.  God will grant great blessings to those who serve well.

God will grant great blessings to all who come to him and follow Christ!

As we close today, let us be thankful and rejoice in the Lord’s wonderful grace to us in this church family.  May we all continue to grow in Christ and be seeking, saving and serving in His name.