Acts 6

Acts 6 gives us insight into some of the challenges of the growing church.  You will recall that there have been many added over the past days – up to 3000 or more at a time as the Apostles have taught and ignored the instruction of the religious leaders to be quiet.  The power of Jesus is spreading rapidly and many were coming into the household of faith.  And as if often the case – complaints begin to come up.  In this case it was a good one – it seems the “widows were being neglected” and not receiving food in the daily distribution.  So the twelve received the complaint and dealt with it.  Lots we can learn here.  Lesson #1 – they did not ignore it nor deflect it nor say it wasn’t their problem.  They called “the full number of disciples” and set the stage to solve it.  They knew they should not “give up the preaching the word of God to serve tables”.  That wasn’t the call God had placed on their lives.  So they offered a solution to the problem.  Lesson #2 – don’t just receive the problem but rather provide a solution to solve it.  In this case it was to select “seven men of good repute” to take on the task of making sure these widows were cared for.  The issue was that no one owned responsibility for that in the church.  As it had grown and the makeup of the body changed – the way they were caring for the flock had not kept up.  Sounds like where a lot of churches are in America today.  Lesson #3 – we need to pay attention to the flock and make adjustments in how we minister to, care for and serve them. 

The twelve didn’t stop though with just solving the immediate problem at hand.  They reinforced their role and told the church “we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word”.  There was no room left for the body to interpret what the Apostles role would be.  Lesson #4 – make sure everyone understand the role of leadership and what tasks and responsibilities that group is assigned and committed to get done.   Far too often people see leaders delegate tasks but not clearly state what they will spend their time doing.  A servant leader makes sure everyone knows their commitment and work focus and leads by example.  Even with this momentary bump in the road “the number of disciples multiplied greatly”.   Lesson #5 – we can continue to grow in spite of bumps along the way.  Often we make excuses that we can’t grow if things are going perfectly.  Quite the opposite is often the case.  Growth happens most rapidly when things are under attack and challenges are being faced and overcome.  Stephen was one of the seven men selected to solve this food issue and was “full of grace and power….was doing great wonders and signs among the people”.  So here is a man who God was using mightily to impact people.  And the response from those around him – “they stirred up the people….seized him and brought him before the council….set up false witnesses to speak”.  Lesson #6 – not everyone will support success and certainly not the people God uses to bring it.  Let’s face it – Stephen and his other six fellow servants were taking care of the flock.  They were making a difference.  And there were some who were jealous and trying to undermine that activity.  And note where they came from: “some of those who belonged to the synagogue”.  It wasn’t the external people who were trying to tear things apart.  It was from within.  Lesson #7 – realize that the enemy will attack from within and outside and be prepared to deal with those attacks from every side.  Stephen is taken before the council and “all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel”.  Lesson #8 – don’t deal with the enemy in your own strength – realize the battle is the Lord’s and allow Him to use you as His instrument to address it.  The battle is not ours.  We need to allow God to take control.  There are other lessons we can learn but know that the reality is that wherever people are – there will be challenges.  The key is that we recognize that and take action in God’s power to address them!

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