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Message

The Life - Part 6, The Early Christians
Miles McPherson - February 17, 2013

Message Recap

Depending on one's upbringing and experiences, he or she may think that the real ministry "professionals" --those who are doing the work of the ministry-- are the church pastors and staff.  But the reality is that the congregation is full of people who have strong Biblical knowledge, faith, and the power of the Holy Spirit that impact them to do amazing ministry in the community.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ Ephesians 4:11-12

When we are walking with God and have an active relationship with Him, then people should be able to see noticeable and positive changes in our lives.

As we continue our series on the Book of Acts, today we take a look at the apostles, who were not necessarily trained or educated men but regular people, yet it was evident that they had been with Jesus.  When we are walking with God and have an active relationship with Him, then people should be able to see noticeable and positive changes in our lives.  The Holy Spirit filled the apostles and worked through them, just as He can does through each of us.

In Acts 6, the twelve disciples were being criticized for the focused manner in which they served in ministry.  However, despite the criticism they received, the disciples knew that they were called to devote themselves to the spreading of God's Word, so they called on a different team, one of whom was the apostle Stephen, to serve the people:

Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;  but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”  Acts 6:1-4

The Hellenist (or “Grecian”) Jews were Jews who had been born outside Palestine in a foreign land. Thus, their native language was Greek, not Hebrew.

Hellenist Jews were:

1. Men and women who were full of the Spirit, His grace, power and wisdom. Acts 6:3

Because there are a variety of ministry opportunities to be done in the world, we all have a different role to play.  We may not all be speaking on a stage, but neither is Pastor Miles providing one-on-one counseling sessions.  As he says, if you are not gifted in math, you probably shouldn't be an accountant!  We all have specific talents, gifts, and callings to form a complete team that serves in ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit.  One is not more important than another, but rather just serving a different purpose in the Kingdom.

2. Men and women with supernatural fruit in their lives. Acts 6:8

The bearing of fruit is evidence that the Holy Spirit is working through you.  Think about this: when was the last time you saw a miracle right in front of your eyes?  If He is in your life, then He is working and you should see evidence of this and be encouraged.  Pay attention to how God is transforming your mind and changing the way you think and feel.

3. Men and women who were "persecution ready."  Acts 6:8-15, 54-60

Getting in the game isn't all glory--at least not in an earthly sense.  The devil doesn't want you to make a difference in anyone's life.  He would much rather have you sitting on the sidelines, so you need to be prepared for battle.  The more you stand up for God, the more you accomplish for God, the more people you help, and the more good you do, the more you will be persecuted.  When you encounter persecution and resistance to this work, it's a sign that you're doing the right thing.

Stephen was criticized and put on trial which even included false testimonies.  In the end he became the first martyr, but even while being stoned, he echos the words of Jesus at His own death on the cross.

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:59-60

Last year, as a church, the Rock Church provided 235,000 hours of volunteer service to San Diego County (valued at about $4 million).  If everyone realized his place of service and did his part, the ministry could explode!   Our church has roughly 20,000 people, so if even 15,000 people gave one hour per week or five hours per month, we could provide one million hours of volunteer service to the county.  Think of how many people could receive help with only that little bit of dedication!

If the church is "doing something" and all you do is sit and listen to church services, then you are missing out on fulfilling God's calling for you.

In San Diego County, there are:

  • 3,400 kids in foster care
  • 10,000 homeless people
  • 500,000 people living under the poverty

We can't leave all the work of the ministry to the pastors and staff.  If the church is "doing something" and all you do is sit and listen to church services, then you are missing out on fulfilling God's calling for you.  If Christ is really your Savior and you are really surrendered to Him, it's time to get up off the bench and get in the game!

The Life

This 12-part series examines what it really looks like to live a life dedicated to Jesus as we study the early church in Acts. In Part 6, Pastor Miles examines the lives of the early Christians to encourage us to serve our community with the same boldness that the first Christians served theirs.

Message Resources

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