- Sermon Notes
Be Empowered for Daily Life
November 6, 2022
As we continue our study of Acts, we see that at this stage the Spirit of God was moving mightily through the apostles as they continued teaching and spreading the good news of the gospel. Many people have come to faith and the church was growing exponentially.
As soon as there is growth there will always be challenges as well. That is what we see happening here as they encounter logistical problems. Our faith in Christ is a spiritual walk, but it flows into and impacts every area of our lives. God uses the physical things that happen to us to also grow us and increase our capacity. The working of the Spirit in our lives has the effect that it changes our physical lives as well.
Many people forget this. We have the blessed eternal Hope that our salvation results in being saved from eternity without God, but this is not the whole story. Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came that we might have life and have it abundantly. Abundance doesn’t mean having a lot of money, as I have met many people who have a lot of money but don’t have life in abundance.
Life in abundance is when the Holy Spirit does a complete work in our souls which flows into every area of our physical lives as well. When my relationships are healed, my marriage is aligned with God’s beautiful plan for marriage, when my business or my work is done in line with godly principles, when I have the privilege to guide my kids in the ways of the Lord which brings life; that is life in abundance.
Life in abundance is when every area of my life is redeemed or in the process of being redeemed from the brokenness and hurt brought on by the assault of the enemy and the worldly systems through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
In this section, we will see trouble were arising in the church. The Hellenistic Jews complained against the Hebraic Jews that their widows were being overlooked in the daily food distribution. This was not a spiritual problem, but a physical problem that needed a solution.
Here we will see how our spiritual walk has practical implications and applications. Also, by adhering to these spiritual principles, challenges can become opportunities that result in growth and life.
These are principles that we can apply not only to our spiritual walk but also to our daily lives. This is applicable in many areas where you might experience a challenge, whether it be relationships, your business, or ministry. God wants us to be empowered and effective in our daily lives.
I. Challenges bring Opportunity
Verse 1- We see that, as the number of disciples was increasing, complaints started to arise. This specific complaint concerned the distribution of daily food to the widows. Those who were not of Hebrew descent were feeling overlooked.
This might be totally foreign to us as there are never any complaints in the church… No, I’ve seen this many times. As soon as there are growth and more people, opinions increase. This can grow into groups clustering into similar opinions, which can flow into dissension and people even being disgruntled.
I thank God that it is not the heart and spirit of this church. I have seen many churches and experienced many churches, but I have never experienced a church like this. God is doing something amazing here.
These things do not only happen in churches, but it happens in broader society as well. One will see this in care groups, as your staff grows in business, even in family situations. When challenges like these arise, one has a choice to run from it and ignore it, or to press through and grow as a person, a group, or an organization.
A. Keep first things first
- Verse 2 – Here we see a wonderful principle when the apostles gathered all the disciples and said that it would not be right for them to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait tables.
- It is so easy for leaders to fall into the trap; of doing the urgent thing instead of the important thing. The feeding and distribution of food to the widows was important but it was not the primary function of the apostles. They had to stay focused on what their calling and function were.
- There is a great time management principle that can be applied here. All things that need our attention can be categorized into four categories: urgent and important, not urgent and important, urgent and not important, and not urgent and not
- Most of our time should be spent with things that are not urgent but important. If I focus on the important things and schedule them right, they will never become urgent. As soon as an important thing becomes urgent, it brings a lot of stress.
- There is a lot to say about this, but research shows that many people spend their time on things that are not urgent and not important, because it is not stressful. But the flip side is it also makes no or little difference in life or the situation. It can become a type of escape.
Illus. Let’s say the student has an important assignment due on a Monday. The student knows about this assignment the week before, but instead of working on it, he puts it off for later. The whole week he plays games and spends time chatting with his friends. Then eventually, Sunday evening, he is confronted with the fact that he did not start his assignment and that it is due the next morning. Now that which is important becomes very urgent. You could spend the whole week working on something important while it was not urgent. Instead, he spent his week working on something unimportant and not urgent.
- In an organization or group, there might be many things that are important, but every function should not necessarily be done by you. It was important to feed the widows, but the apostles’ function was not to go and wait tables but to take up leadership and ask God for the solution, appointing the right people whose function it would be and to whom it would be very important.
Illus. – To use an analogy from the body: digestion is very important in the body. The stomach, the colon, the liver, and all the other intestinal organs are focused on keeping this regular. Although this is so critical and important, it has nothing to do with the eye. If the eye would want to jump in and go and help with digestion, it would be in the way and really not effective because it was not designed and purposed to help with digestion. In fact, it would be destroyed. In the same way, the liver cannot see.
- Everyone has a purpose and needs to be focused on what their primary function is. This is the principle we learn from the apostles. They kept the first thing first.
B. Hand over, and take up responsibility
- Verse 3 – There are two important principles at work here. The apostles had to turn the responsibility over to them, and the people that were chosen had to take up the responsibility.
- This is a great leadership principle. If a leader is not willing to hand off responsibility, his plate will just become too full, and it will stifle development and growth. In fact, as the organization grows and he tries to still do everything, he will become ineffective in all the areas because it is just too much to handle. Then every area will suffer.
Illus. – When the church is small and only has 10 or 15 people, it is easy for the pastor to do everything. He can switch on the one speaker and set up the one mic, put out a few chairs, do the sermon, and do a quick Bible story for the two kids that are there. But when the church has 1000 or 2000 people attending, it is a different story; especially if you prepare food for everyone before most of the services as well.
Illus. – In Numbers 11 Moses had this problem. He was complaining to God and saying that it was just too heavy on him to guide, judge, and supply for all the people. So, God told him to gather 70 elders to help him carry the load, and God placed his Spirit on the 70 elders to help Moses with the people.
- This makes the leader much more effective when he focuses on what is important in his calling.
- But there are two sides to this. The new people who were chosen had to take responsibility. This was important work and they needed to be dedicated and take responsibility for that which was entrusted to them.
- It would be defeating the purpose if the leaders had to keep on pulling them along, trying to get them to do the things that were important.
Illus. there is this new thing rearing its ugly head in society, and it is called slow quitting. Where people are doing their jobs, but doing just enough not to be fired; really not engaging and being effective. This is a great worry in society if this becomes the mentality of the workforce.
- There is no place for this in the life of a Christian. The Bible teaches us to do everything we do as if for God and for the glory of God. In other words, everything you do reflects your character and the fact that you are a child of God.
- We are not to take the name of God in vain. What does this mean? We should make sure that we are portraying the character and values of God and representing Him well. Otherwise, we are making a mockery of God and of His church. God will not be mocked; what a man sows he will reap.
- Taking responsibility speaks of taking ownership; being that person that never has to be checked on as you willingly and gladly take ownership of whatever your responsibility is, be it volunteering in ministry at church, or being a great example at work.
II. Be Empowered by God
The apostles applied this wisdom to the growing church as well. They were to appoint people who could be effective in ministering to the area they didn’t have time for. However, an important principle was that they didn’t just grab the first available people and passed it off to them without any regard. They needed people who were full of the Spirit and wisdom. They needed to be empowered by God.
A. Live filled and guided by the Spirit
- This is such a great principle. These people were tasked to do practical work, yet they were not to rely on their own strength and ability even in practical work. They had to be people who were full of the Spirit and who had the wisdom of God.
- We see this happening even in the Old Testament.
Exodus 31:1-5, Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel…. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.
- This implies that God is and wants to be involved in every area of our lives. If we want to live an effective life on this earth, we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit even in practical everyday things, because it is in the practical things that the fruit of the Spirit is shown.
- The fruit of the Spirit is not an airy-fairy mystical concept, but practical-living principles.
Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
- These are character traits that every boss would want to see in their employees.
- Wouldn’t it be horrible if the people working with the widows were loveless, sullen, anxious, obnoxious, unkind, unfaithful, rude, and self-centered?
- We need to ask God that, in everything we do, spiritual or practical, that His fruit will manifest in our lives.
- In church life, whether I am answering the phones, cleaning the bathrooms, leading the worship, working in the children’s church, mentoring youth, making the food, or whatever I’m doing, it must be done under the guidance and influence of the Holy Spirit working through me.
- The same principle applies to my life outside of the church walls. And I suggest, it should apply even more as this is part of our testimony of a changed life.
B. Live with godly wisdom
- They did not only have to be filled with the Spirit, but they had to be full of wisdom as well. Wisdom is a very practical thing because you need to be wise to know how to handle every situation.
- If a person is wise, it is a sign that they are surrendered to God. A proud person does not ask for advice.
Proverbs 1:7, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
- The problem with a fool is that he thinks he is wise and needs no counsel, and as such despises wisdom and being instructed. Many times, a fool needs to go through the hard knocks of life to find out that he is foolish before he is willing to acknowledge that he needs the Lord.
- A humble person is willing to ask for help and will look for wisdom from others.
Proverbs 12:15, The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
- We can find wisdom from godly counsel. We also have the promise that God said that He would supply wisdom for those who ask it of Him.
James 1:5-8, But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
- God will not force his wisdom on you, but He will gladly give you the wisdom to navigate life effectively.
Proverbs 3:5-7, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
C. Following spiritual principles brings growth
- Although this challenge might’ve been frustrating, God was using this to increase their capacity to be more effective and to grow the kingdom.
- By following these principles, every person was effectively ministering in the area that was entrusted to them.
- This would not have happened if the apostles ceased their task and started focusing on other secondary things.
- Verse 7 – So the word of God spread. The result was that the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly. Not only this, but a large number of priests became obedient to the faith as well.
- God’s heart is that there will be growth in our personal lives and in the kingdom. As we live filled and directed by the Holy Spirit, surrendering to God’s wisdom and allowing Him to teach us His way, it will result in personal growth.
- Our lives will also impact those around us. I’m sure it was not easy to convince the Jewish priests to convert to this new faith. They must’ve seen the steadfastness and conviction of the apostles, not only in what they taught but seeing the outflow and result of their teachings in the lives of their disciples and the people it impacted. Not only in word, but also in deed.
- This is where our faith becomes practical as well. Because of our faith, our actions change.
James 2:14-17, What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
- We can live empowered by God to be effective in every area of our lives, touching those around us with His grace.
Acts 6:1-15 NASB
1 Now [a]at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the [b]Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 2 So the twelve summoned the [c]congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the [d]ministry of the word.” 5 The statement found approval with the whole [e]congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and [f]Nicolas, a [g]proselyte from Antioch. 6 And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.
7 The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and [h]signs among the people. 9 But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and [i]Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. 10 But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him [j]before the [k]Council. 13 They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” 15 And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the [l]Council saw his face like the face of an angel.