- Sermon Notes
A Cure For Discontent
We see in Acts chapter 2 the Lord adding to the church and it goes on to multiply rapidly.
In Acts chapter 6, the church is increasing in numbers, the disciples are continuing every day in the temple and from house to house teaching & preaching Jesus as the Messiah.
A reminder here in the early church that God never divides His church - that’s the work of Satan.He might subtract from it…
This passage is an interesting case of church life and church leadership - all of us are part of this story.
No church is perfect - reminds me of a story of 4 church leaders attending a conference…
- Only a perfect God - none of us
So thankful for the Book of Acts - a record of the earliest church in history which tells it like it is about the challenges of the early church.
Now - here we are in Chapter 6 and a problem arises among two groups of believers - both Jewish - but one group vs the other.
Complaints if not dealt with swiftly brings division and discontent.
A complaint arose because the Jews that were speaking Greek (Hellenists) accused the Jews that were speaking Hebrew of overlooking their widows in the daily serving of food.
You can see the conflict coming - the local Jews probably felt they were better.
In Israel today - Orthodox Jews, formal dress, very strict. - - Religious Jews, more casual dress, love the Lord but more casual about it. - - Non-religious Jews - casual but do not practice any specific religious tradition.
I. WE ARE ALL CALLED TO SERVE
Is this conflict a shock to you?Can you imagine an internal dispute in the church over food?Of course I’m being sarcastic…
Why is it that people get bent out of shape over things that don’t matter?Do people leave churches over the paint color or the carpet?
Of course these types of things still happen today - and if we were completely honest many of us would admit a variety of unnecessary distractions.
I’ve heard it once said that when “we” preach the Gospel, the light shines bright - - and then Satan sends his “bugs” - those things that seem to attack us when we shine the light.
The early church in Corinth was having a dispute because those who were moving in the spiritual gifts were acting superior to the others.
Paul wrote to them in I Corinthians 13 and said, “Let me show you a more excellent way.”
The more excellent was he showed them the way of love.
Chapter 6 was fixed when the appointed leaders with the Holy Spirit leading them - solved the problem with organization
A. God’s word guarantees a healthy and organized church
Like you, we refer to our church as our family - and like our family at home, everyone helps, everyone contributes.
“Organization” is not bad…My Bible reflects a God who is very organized, you’ve heard it said He is a God of order.
I Corinthians 14:40; But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.
6:1: What was the first problem; Growth - - at one time the Upper Room had 120 people - although a “good problem”, it still needs to be addressed.
The disciples said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables…we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
They are of course reminding us that a healthy church needs to be fed the word of God.
And it’s many folks like yourselves with various roles to serve the church.
Illus - when our large family relocated multiple times during my corporate career…
You’ve heard Pastor Rich’s story about choosing to teach verse by verse.Advanced Biblical studies happens here every week between Pastor Rich and Pastor Matthew!
Illus - In fact, Pastor Rich compares a pastor who teaches the word to that of a Chef.He takes the word and makes a meal to nourish the soul.There’s meat and vegetables and milk - and of course with Rich, there’s always a little dessert!
The Book of Acts reminds us of the priority of preparation in preparing such a meal; covered in prayer and given with the heart of God.
B. Equipping ourselves for service
People sometimes think “large” means impersonal - a perceived lack of concern - AND often the expectation that the “leaders” shouldpersonally fix issues that arise.
I love the story because the Disciples weren’t the ones fixing this problem - they involved the congregation.
With the early church growing exponentially, the disciples realized that others needed to rise up and help with the serving and leading tasks.
A great example was Moses himself when he lead the people out of Egypt -
•But in Exodus 18 Moses gets a lesson from his father in law, Jethro, about delegation…
Exodus 18:17-18; … ”What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.”
Organization in the early church was lead by either Apostles (those designated) or Disciples (learner/students).
Today we need all of us to fill our gifted roles or be stretched to learn new ones.
Imagine Pastor Rich doing it all…
Illus - I remember when I was new to Nike and had responsibility for a business unit of roughly 40 people…
Ephesians 4:7, 11-12; To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gifts…And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
Paul said the same thing regarding the equipping of the saints - the entire church must be equipped for the work of service.
Leaders must set the example which is another reason we look for servants before we look for leaders.
Illus - I will never forget my first visit to Calvary Chapel - Easter 1996…
Matthew 20:25-27; Jesus said, “You know that the Gentiles lord it over them…It is not this way among you, whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be the servant of all.”
As we see in Acts 6 there are many ways to serve.Preparing this message for the church is serving, just like those who prepare our meal for us in the kitchen.
II. KEEP GROWING AND BECOME MATURE
The solution is this case is the Disciples find the 7 men of good reputation, full of the spirit and of wisdom.
A problem has occurred - - Is it worse or better by complaining about it?
Albert Einstein had this to say about solving problems; “If I had 55 minutes to solve a problem, I’d spend 50 minutes understandingthe problem and 5 minutes solving it”
In Proverbs chapter 6 we find a list of 7 things the Lord hates!
- Proverbs 6:16-19; There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty
eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness
who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
And in Ephesians 4 Paul describes the Christian growing in their faith and becoming more mature in Christ.
Ephesians 4:12-13; …for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
So what’s the priority in fixing this problem?What does the passage say to us about how we honor God through our lives and conduct?
- Keep the Main thing the Main thing
- Prayer and the Word
- Priorities of the ministry; prayer and the Word
2 Timothy 4:2; preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
- What are your priorities?
- Always have time for what you put 1st
- Is Bible reading and prayer #1 or #20?
- Our marriages, families, jobs?
- Husbands, are you too busy to have date nights with your wives?
- Wives, have you experienced the blessings of making your home a welcomed refuge for your husbands?
- Yes, many good things add up and often take over the best things - the things God would have you pay more attention to.
- Starve your distractions and feed your priorities!
A. Reputation matters
Proverbs 22:1; A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
Are you handling problems or challenges according to God’s principles?
Whether it’s work or marriage or parenting or finances, we are called to use God’s principles.
The Apostles delegated that the 7 men chosen would solve the conflict.People in the church are grumbling.
- Have you ever worked for a boss who did not delegate - who believed the best idea was always their idea?
B. Be full of the Holy Spirit
These men not only had a good reputation, they were filled with the Holy Spirit - You can have many of the other qualifications, but would you agree that without this one, it’s worthless.
Galatians 5:22-23; The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…
Put that bucket list on your refrigerator or better yet ask someone close to you how you are doing?
Like fruit on a vine, this type of fruit doesn’t ripen all at once, it comes from our relationship to Christ.
Romans 12:11; Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
C. Be filled with wisdom
Knowledge alone doesn’t cut it with God - Wisdom is the right application of that knowledge.
Wisdom is something you can obtain.God tells us that obtaining wisdom should be one of our highest priorities in life.
Proverbs 4:7, 13; “The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding…Take hold of instruction; do not let go.Guard her, for she is your life."
How does this conflict in Acts end?
Ingenious really - All 7 chosen are Greeks - so this is a beautiful solution…showing leadership and wisdom in having the Greeks work with the source of the conflict - the Greek speaking Jews.
What does all this mean to you? Remember your priorities - prayer and the Word which leads you to:
A servant’s heart A healthy church
Spiritual maturity Sensitivity to the Spirit
Wisdom from Christ Himself